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Full text of "Noah's grandchildren"

GRANDCniLDI^EN 




JULIERCCHEVAUER 



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Noah's grandchildren, 



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Noah^s Grandchildren 




Keto ran a curious finger over its glassy surface. 



noAHy 

CR/jriDCHILDREM 




BY JULIER C. CHEVALIER, 

ILLUSTRATED BY W. C. TROUT 



DOUBLEDAY, DORAN <& COMPANY, Inc 
GARDEN CITY 1929 NEW YORK 




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7 

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COPYRIGHT, 1929 

iBT DOtTBLEDAY, DORAN & COMPANY, INC. 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT 

THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS 

GARDEN CITY, N. Y. 

riRST EDITION 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

I. HOW THE STORY CAME 1 

II. GOGl's BABYHOOD 9 

III. NEW year's eve 17 

IV. THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 30 

V. THE NEW YEAR FEAST AND WRES- 
TLING 39 

VI. THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM AND THE 

TALE OF THE KHEVSOURS 49 

VII. A TRIP TO THE VILLAGE SMITHY 62 

VIII. EASTER 77 

IX. KETO VISITS DATUM 87 

X. SHOPS IN BATUM 100 

XI. TENDING THE SILKWORMS 111 

XII. THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 118 

XIII. TO MENGRALIA 136 

XIV. A HORSE TRADE AND A WEDDING 143 



viii CONTENTS 

PAGE 

XV. THE GOLDEN FLEECE 158 

XVI. GAMES AND NUTS 169 

XVII. THE POTTER 181 

XVIII. HAVTKING 192 

XIX. DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 203 

XX. SCHOOL 215 

XXI. GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 227 

XXII. THE LEGEND OF SURABO 239 

XXIII. THE TURKISH BATH 252 

XXrV. THE PIG HUNT — ^AT HOME AGAIN 264 

XXV. VTAR, A:ND the stranger AGAIN 278 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Keto ran a curious finger over its glassy Frontispiece 
surface 

FAciNa PAa», 

He saw a little house perched high above the ground 
on slender y stiltlike legs 4 

**/< is good to he strong, "^^ agreed his mother, ^^But 
one must feed strength'^ 22 

"/ wish to reach Ezeroum before nightfall,^' said 
Ashik 1£6 

"/ have a secret^ said Gogi solemnly 160 



Noah^s Grandchildren 




How the Story Came 



I 



N THE yellow circle of a swinging kerosene 
lamp a barefooted boy sat and read. The book 
before him was thick and broad and bound in 
leather rough from years of use. Its huge covers 
were fitted with metal corners and a massive sil- 
ver clasp that locked when they were closed. 

It was a story book. The bold black type and 
faded pictures on its thick mellow pages told of 
travel and adventure, of battles won and lost, of 
hate and love and life and death. 

The boy was born and lived on the great roll- 
ing plains of Texas. He had never seen a moun- 
tain; nor had he ever seen the sea. Because of 

1 



2 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

this, perhaps, there was one story of which he 
never tired; he was reading it now: 

''And the water returned from off the earth- 
. . . And the ark rested in the seventh month 
upon the mountains of Ararat. . . . And Noah 
went forth with his sons, Shem, Ham, and 
Japheth. . . . And he became a husbandman. 
. . . And Noah's sons and their children over- 
spread the whole earth." 

As the boy grew older he read that story, 
among others, again and again, but never, when 
he closed the book, did he feel that the whole 
had been told. It ended too abruptly; it was a 
good story that had been cut a little short. 

The boy became a man and the man traveled. 
The man traveled far and wide; his adventures 
were many on land and sea, but none of them 
ever equaled those of which he had read as a child 
in the heavy old book. 

After years of travel it so happened that the 
man stood on the mountains of Ararat. He stood 
on the saddle where Greater Ararat slopes up- 
ward and outward from Lesser Ararat. As he 
gazed up toward the icy, cloud-hidden peak 
whence Noah and his little family had descended 
he resolved to seek the end of the story; he re- 



HOW THE STORY CAME 3 

solved to find the great-grandchildren of Noah. 

The story said, *'And Noah planted vine- 
yards." The man came down and sought for 
vineyards. Now in all the lowland about Ararat 
there was no vineyard nor was there any man 
that answered to the name of Noah's great- 
grandson. The man, however, dir] not lose hope 
but fared onward, southward and westward. At 
last he came to the Caucasus Mountains, which 
are among the oldest in the world. These he 
climbed and passed over. As he descended their 
sunny southern slopes he began to see all about 
him the houses of husbandmen, and the air was 
sweet with the odor of the ripening grapes. 

"Surely," thought the man, "I am nearing my 
journey's end," and being wearied with the many 
miles he had come, he sat down on a stone by the 
roadside to rest. 

Up the grassy hill, and removed a little from 
the road, he saw a little house. It was loosely built 
of rough-hewn boards which yet showed the 
marks of the adz. It was roofed with curly hand- 
split shingles and was perched high above the 
ground on slender stiltlike legs. As the traveler 
watched an aged man came from the house and 
approached his resting place. 



4 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

The old man held in one hand a horn of wine 
which he offered to the traveler, saying at the 
same time with a low bow: 

"Victory be with thee. Refresh thyself and long 
life to thee!" 

When the traveler had emptied the drinking 
horn of its contents the old man took him by the 
arm and led him toward the near-by house. As 
they neared the house a woman came out and 
stood with lowered eyes. At the steps the old 
man bade the traveler be seated. The traveler 
seated himself upon the lower step, and the 
woman, taking off his dusty shoes, washed his 
tired feet with cool water from a ewer and dried 
them with a length of harsh hnen. When she had 
done she replaced the traveler's shoes and has- 
tened away, to return shortly with a rich morsel 
of goat's cheese and a bowl of warm porridge. < 

Upon seeing all these things, the traveler be- 
came even more certain that he was near his 
journey's end and turning to the old man in- 
quired how he was called. 

And the old man rephed: "I am of those who 
are called in this land Karthli, for we are the 
descendants of Karthlos, the son of Togarmah, 
who was the great-grandson of Noah, And him 




He saw a little house perched high above the ground 
slender^ stiltlike legs. 



on 



HOW THE STORY CAME 5 

have we followed, for we are husbandmen and 
plant vineyards. Eat, now, I pray thee, and rest 
thee." 

The traveler was overjoyed on hearing the 
words of his aged host, and when the old man 
pressed him to tarry in their midst he readily 
consented. Seven years the traveler lived with 
them. He ate with them and slept with them ; he 
made merry with them at their weddings and 
wept with them at their burials. In days of peace 
he sat at their table and in war he fought by their 
side. 

On warm summer days he trod the mountain 
paths in the wake of the grazing sheep or rested 
and mused in the shade of ancient castles built 
by long-forgotten kings. When winter came he 
sat in friendly circles about cheery open fires on 
the earthen floors of crude log kitchens and bark- 
ened to song or tale. In every crumbling stone 
of the deserted castle ruins he saw another picture, 
and in every song or tale he heard another chap- 
ter, from the old, old story. 

They sang of Togarmah, the son of Gomer, 
whose father was Japheth, the son of Noah; they 
sang of Karthlos, the son of Togarmah, and they 
told how he became the father of their people; 



6 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

and of his son Mtsketos, the Builders of Cities 
and Walls. The traveler heard the story and went 
and saw the city of Mtsketos, which is called 
Mtsket and still stands, a monument to the name 
of its builder. 

He heard of Pharnavas, the splendid, who 
gathered all the tribes together and drove the 
Persians and Armenians from their borders ; and 
he stood beneath bridges erected by the passing 
generals of Alexander the Great. He learned 
that even the armies of the Romans under Pom- 
pey and Trajan had been unable to take from 
the Karthli their liberty. 

The priests told him of St. Nina, who, fleeing 
from Tiradates, the cruel King of Armenia, came 
to them bringing the Word of Christ out of Cap- 
padocia in the third century after his crucifixion. 
And the priests showed him the chapel built on 
the spot where St. Nina had delivered the Word. 
The chapel was built to hold the cross which St. 
Nina wove from the vine of the grape, and it 
sheltered it for many years until marauding Rus- 
sians stole the cross away. The priests told, also, 
of good St. Mesrop, who gave to them an alpha- 
bet and wrote for them the Holy Bible in their 
own language in the Fifth Century of our Lord. 



HOW THE STORY CAME 7 

The old men told tales of massacre and pil- 
lage; how the Tartars came under the Sons of 
Genghis Khan and how they were twice visited 
by Timur, the Lion, sometimes called Tamerlane, 
who came out of the land of Samarkand with fire 
and sword. They told of their own king, Gurg- 
Arslan, the Wolf -Lion, who marched to capture 
India, and how in his old age he returned home 
and built the city of Tiflis, which still stands on 
the warm springs from which it takes its name. 

Last of all he heard of the Russians, who came 
and took their country with the sword and op- 
pressed them terribly for a hundred years, and 
how the Russians had but lately departed to leave 
the Karthli again in peace. 

When the traveler inquired how their present 
king was called, the Karthli answered proudly 
that they had no king but that a new leader had 
arisen — a just and learned man of ripe years — 
and that he was called Noah — ^Noah Jordani. 

And then the traveler knew for a certainty 
what he had long suspected — the old, old story 
had no end! He knew that it went on and on and 
on, ever changing, ever new. 

Best of all the land of the Karthli, which is 
called Georgia, the traveler loved that part which 



8 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

is called Guria. Best of all the people of Karthli 
he loved the Guriani or Gurians, for they are the 
most hospitable of all that hospitable people, and 
the greatest defenders of their liberty. With all 
the hardships of foreign invasion and cruel op- 
pression they have never lost their deep love for 
their native land and their proud inheritance of 
liberty and wonderful tradition. 

So the traveler became one with the Gurians ; 
their children called him Uncle, and the traveler 
came to know them as very much Uke the children 
of his own far America. True, they call their 
father mama and their mother deda, but they 
have their games and they help their elders ; they 
like to go on journeys to new and strange places 
and see new and strange things. Above all, they 
like to hear stories and sing songs. In the follow- 
ing stories which the traveler tells of Gogi and 
his little sister Keto you will learn wherein their 
work and games and manner of living differ from 
your own. 




II 



Gogi's Babyhood 



OGI was a Georgian boy from the province 
of Guria, which lies on the warm slopes of the 
Caucasus Mountains. He had been born on the 
feast day of good White Georgi, the patron saint 
of all the Caucasus, and because of this he was 
called Gogi, which is really a shortening of 
Georgi. 

The priest had come, and with him the deacon. 
These two had baptized the child and named him 
Georgi. The priest had painted crosses of sweet 

9 



10 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

oil upon the squirming body of Gogi with a tiny 
brush of camel's hair; crosses upon the soles of 
his feet — that he might follow the right path; 
crosses upon the palms of his hands — that he 
might do good deeds; and crosses on his crown 
and forehead — that he might always think aright. 
The priest had snipped, too, a dark silky curl 
from Gogi's round little head, and after dipping 
him all naked into a great bowl of water, had 
wrapped him all dripping in a long strip of linen 
and placed him in the arms of natlia-mama, the 
godfather. About his neck had been hung a tiny 
silver cross strung on a thread of raw silk. 

Natlia-deda, the godmother, and Natlia-mama, 
the godfather, had been commanded by the priest 
to spit thrice and blow thrice to rid them of evil. 
The priest spoke a short prayer and turning to 
the godparents said: "Take ye this servant of 
the Lord, Georgi, and watch over him and keep 
him as if he were your own ; and may ye answer 
to the Holy Trinity! Amen!" 

Vasso, the father, and Nina, the mother, who 
had been sent from the room during the ceremony, 
were allowed to return. Kissing and embracing 
their little son's godparents, they said: "Long 
life to you and may your evil be on our heads." 



GOGI'S BABYHOOD 11 

The godparents returned the embraces and re- 
phed: "And to you long hfe." 

Gogi's mother, Nina, took him from the god- 
father's arms and placed him in his little cradle, 
strapping him firmly to its thin felt mattress. 
This cradle was Gogi's first childhood memory. 
The gay paint of its carved posts and the bright 
colored wooden beads with which it was decorated 
were a joy to his baby eyes. How he longed to 
touch them — to grasp them with his chubby baby 
fists and draw them even nearer. But try as he 
would he could not, for his arms were bound 
snugly to his sides by the two broad bandages that 
strapped him to the cradle. The bands were of 
strong linen and encircled his small body, cradle, 
felt mattress, and all. Nina tied him thus in order 
that he might grow straight and tall like his father, 
Vasso. 

Whither Nina went she took little Gogi. Pick- 
ing up the cradle by the round crosspieces that 
ran from one bowed end to the other, she carried 
it about from place to place — to the log kitchen 
down by the brook, to the milking shed, or to 
the mill below the house. When Gogi was hungry, 
Nina knelt beside his cradle and fed him, and 
when he cried she would sit spinning silk at his 



n NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

side and croon a song while she rocked his crib 
on its short rockers with a toe that she slipped 
from her wooden sandals. 

Always Gogi lay in his cradle excepting short 
intervals when his mother took him out to change 
his swaddling clothes and allow him to stretch 
and yawn. When he stretched Nina was delighted 
and, stroking his little, fat stomach, would croon 
lovingly: ''Stretch and grow, little heart, stretch 
and grow." And over his yawning mouth she 
would make the sign of the cross so that no evil 
might enter while it was open. 

Gogi stretched and grew, and when the feast 
of White Georgi came again the cradle had be- 
come already too small for his long legs. When 
Nina drew the bands that held him in his two 
little feet and his curly mop of black hair were 
forced tight against the two arched ends. 

''The time is come," said Nina, "when he must 
have a takhtaf' And Vasso, taking his hatchet, 
made his son a rough bed from walnut wood. It 
was little more than a broad, short-legged bench 
covered with a thick slab of soft felt. From sheep's 
wool Nina had rolled and beaten two squares of 
felt, one thick and another thin. The thicker piece 
she used as a mattress to soften the hard boards 



GOGI'S BABYHOOD 13 

of the tdkhta, and the thinner one, decorated on 
one side with tufts of long goat's hair, was to 
cover Gogi on chilly nights. 

Vasso took the little cradle from its place in 
the corner and hung it carefully on a peg driven 
into a chink of the wall. He ran a loving finger 
over its carved legs and gave the rattling strings 
of gay colored wooden beads a last caress. "This 
has been a lucky cradle," he said to his wife. "In 
it I slept and my father before me, and we are 
tall men and shave our beards. May the Lord give 
that our son's son sleep in it also." 

"May the Lord give," repeated Nina, and she 
made the sign of the cross with her fingers over 
Gogi as he snuggled into his strange new bed 
to lie on his side for the first time in his young 
life. 

Gogi was overjoyed with this new freedom of 
feet and hands, and with the coming of winter 
he took his first few baby steps. First he learned 
to pull himself to his feet by holding onto the 
tufts of hair on his takhtafs felt coverlet; and 
then he learned to walk down one side, around 
the end, and up the other side of his bed, stum- 
bling and clutching with little frightened grabs 
at the shaggy felt. 



14 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"It is a blessing," said Nina to Vasso, as they 
watched his playful antics, "that our little frog 
walks in the winter." 

Vasso, squatted on his heels a few paces from 
Gogi, was teasing his son to loose his grasp of 
the bed and dash across the narrow space of open 
floor to his outstretched hands. He gravely nod- 
ded without taking his gaze from Gogi's unsteady 
efforts to stand alone. Vasso understood what 
his wife meant — that little toddlers needed careful 
watching in the summer time when doors are 
wide open, because houses in Guria stand high 
above the ground on spidery, stiltlike legs. 

One winter day the little cradle was again taken 
down from its peg in the wall and became the 
bed of Gogi's little sister, Keto. Her full name 
was Ekaterini, but that was much too large a 
name for so small a girl, Nina said, and so, to 
her parents and her brother, Gogi, she became 
Keto. Keto, too, in time outgrew the little carved 
crib, and Vasso made for her a takhta just like 
the one on which her brother slept. 

Gogi and Keto romped together in the house, 
and when the weather was warm they loved to 
play in the woods beyond the brook that flowed 
below the little log kitchen at the bottom of the 



GOGI'S BABYHOOD 15 

yard. In the woods they gathered nuts or chased 
the lean, long-legged mountain pigs. Where 
nuts were the pigs were sure to be, for they, too, 
loved nuts, and when the children drove them 
off with loud cries and bits of stick or stone the 
pigs were very frightened and angry and would 
shake their great tusked heads and switch their 
long tails and squeal with terror of the missiles 
and disappointment at losing a fine feed of sweet 
filbert nuts. 

One day as the children returned from such a 
trip to the woods their father Vasso met them 
at the top of the steep house steps and said, 
"Come and see your baby sister, my children." 

"A baby sister!" shrieked Keto. "Where is 
she? What is her name?" 

"She is in the old cradle in the big room," re- 
plied Vasso, smiling at their excitement. "And 
she has no name as yet, but the good priest will 
soon find one for her, no doubt." 

As Vasso had said, the cradle stood in the big 
front room and over it knelt Granny Imnadze, 
who lived in the little house below the mill. She 
smiled a greeting to the children, and as they 
drew near she drew back the coverlet and held 
a finger to her toothless old mouth in warning. 



16 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

On the tiny pillow of the crib lay a little round 
head covered with downy black hair, and a face 
that screwed itself up into a dozen wrinkles and 
dimples as the bright light struck it. 

Keto would have reached out her hand to fondle 
the tiny head, but Granny thrust her aside with 
an angry whisper. "Do you think that this is a 
knucklebone that you can play with?" she asked. 
"This is another little mouth to eat the sweets 
that your natlia brings from the bazaar in the 
city." 

"And another pair of legs to run with Keto and 
me in the woods," said Gogi happily. "And an- 
other pair of hands to gather nuts and stone the 
greedy pigs that steal them." 

"Time enough for these little legs to run in the 
woods with you two little frogs. Begone and let 
her sleep," retorted the tart old granny, and 
Gogi and Keto ran back to the woods to chase 
the pigs and plan games for the newcomer. 




Ill 



New Year's Eve 



HE sun was still behind the mountains when 
Gogi arose. Hastily slipping into his homespun 
blouse and baggy breeches, he pattered barefoot 
to the window ledge where his stiff rawhide slip- 
pers stood filled with water. 

He called these slippers tchouvaki and he wore 
them when he had a great deal of walking to do. 

17 



18 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Soaked in water as they were, they became quite 
soft, and when worn with thick socks of spongy 
wool they did not tire his feet as did his wooden 
sandals, with their leather thong sawing between 
his toes. 

He emptied the water from the now softened 
tchouvaki and banged them against the side of 
the window to rid them of the last drops. This 
done, he drew them on his stockinged feet and 
bound them fast by wrapping their long laces 
several times about his ankles and legs. 

Gogi was now ready for the day, and it prom- 
ised to be a very busy day. The morrow would 
bring the New Year and there would be feasting 
and singing. Where there is feasting and singing, 
there is always a host of guests. Food and drink 
must be made ready for the guests, and many 
good things that had been put away in the autumn 
would reappear to-morrow to fill the great table 
that Vasso was even now hammering together 
in the middle of the wide yard. Gogi heard the 
thupp-thupp-thupp of the hand ax against the 
heads of the strong square nails that Vasso had 
ordered from neighbor Vanno last week. 

"Vanno is a clever fellow," thought Gogi, as 
he clambered down the steep steps of his home to 



NEW YEAR'S EVE 19 

seek the water jug. "Vanno demanded two skeins 
of silk thread in exchange for those nails, and 
all the time he well knew that they were for the 
table from which he would be the first to get 
his fill. Never mind; long life to Vanno. The 
table is to honor good St. Basil, who is patron of 
the New Year and all good things that come with 
it. He will accept the sacrifice and watch over 
the silkworms this year; the worms will prosper 
and the silk will be returned sevenfold." 

Gogi found the water jug, or koki, as it is called, 
and grasping its damp fat sides with his knees, 
allowed a thin trickle of cold water to dribble 
from its long narrow neck into his cupped hands. 
As fast as his hands were filled he dashed the 
water into his face ; he shook his head to get the 
water out of his ears, dried his hands on the loose 
skirts of his blouse and dashed around the corner 
of the house to see the table finished. 

*'Wah!" said his father, Vasso, by way of greet- 
ing, as he saw Gogi's still damp face at his busy 
elbow. "You have come to hold the nails for me, 
eh?" 

Gogi would have liked to drive a nail himself, 
but he knew that he could never swing the heavy 
hatchet hard enough to force them through the 



20 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

tough planks. It was fun to watch his father, how- 
ever, so he took the nails and stood carefully to 
one side. 

Thupp-thupp-thupp . . . bang-bang, came 
the blows of Vasso's hatchet, and one by one the 
long nails disappeared into the wood. Now and 
then a spark flew from the swishing head of the 
hatchet as it glanced from the head of a spike, 
and Gogi thought : 

*'Vanno, the smith's son, is not such a bad fel- 
low after all. How the sparks flew when he was 
making the nails ! It must be nice to be sixteen and 
almost a man; to make nails and swords and 
sharpen plows and be the champion wrestler of 
the whole countryside. Vanno sometimes allowed 
the smaller boys to pump the forge when they 
came with bullocks to be shod. If the boys were 
too small the huge bellows dragged them off their 
feet, and then Vanno and his father, Grigo, the 
smith, would laugh and shout and slap their knees 
and say: 'Ho, little gogo, little girl, back to your 
knitting! Home to your mother!' "Yes, Vanno 
was a big fellow, but when it came to throwing 
a bullock and lashing his feet to a pole for shoeing, 
even he had need of his father, Grigo." 

Vasso drove home the last of the nails with a 



NEW YEAR'S EVE 21 

mighty bang and, standing back to inspect his 
work, passed the hatchet to Gogi. This was just 
what Gogi had been looking forward to, and he 
already knew what was expected of him. He was 
to go for the filbert sapling from which Vasso 
would make the "Beard of St. Basil." Other 
years Vasso had chosen the tree himself, but a 
week or so ago he had mentioned that Gogi might 
go this year. 

As Gogi neared the little log kitchen that stood 
on the brookside below the house he threw back 
his shoulders and walked very straight, with the 
shining hatchet tilted on his shoulder. He slack- 
ened his pace as he came closer, hoping that his 
mother, Nina, or his sister, Keto, who was help- 
ing her, might notice him. 

"Gogi goes for the Beard of St. Basil," a shrill 
voice cried, and Gogi knew that his sister had 
seen him. 

Nina, with head snugly bound in a black ker- 
chief, turned from the great pot of millet por- 
ridge which she was stirring to greet her son. 

"May thy troubles be on my shoulders!" said 
the mother. "Surely you are a young man and 
go to fetch the Beard of St. Basil (may his 
blessing be on our roof) ." 



n NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"It is my year," answered Gogi, "and a great 
Beard it shall be, for I am well able to carry a 
man's beard these days." 

"It is good to be strong," agreed his mother, 
"but one must feed strength." And knowing that 
the lad wished to be on his way, she gave him a 
steaming chunk of cornbread and a moist lump 
of good salty cheese as they talked. 

''Natlia-mama (the godfather) comes to us 
with the New Year, and the pig to be roasted 
is as big as an ox, for the natlia is a rich man who 
has seen much, and we would not have any shame 
on our house. Therefore, when you have found 
a sapling for the Beard seek another upon which 
to roast the pig, for the one we used last year 
is far too small. See that it is strong and with a 
good bend so that it may be easily turned under 
the great weight of so huge a pig." 

Gogi, with a word of thanks for the food and 
another of assent to her request, placed the bread 
and cheese in the peak of his hashlik, which had 
fallen from his head and hung down his back. 
Waving his hand in a farewell, he leaped from 
stone to stone across the shallow stream of the 
brook and started toward the forest at a fast trot. 

The wood was filled with filbert trees, but Gogi 




'It is good to be strong;' agreed his mother. ''But one 
must feed strength;' 



NEW YEAR'S EVE 23 

was not contented with the first to which he came. 
He followed from one to another. Each time as 
he found a good one and made ready to chop it 
down, he was sure to discover another and better 
one somewhere near. St. Basil's feast came but 
once a year, and Gogi wanted nothing but the 
best. 

At last he found one that suited him and care- 
fully cut it down. After trimming the twigs from 
the young tree, he placed it on one side and turned 
to seek another for a new wooden spit upon which 
to roast the giant pig. He lost no time in this 
second choice and soon set out for home, dragging 
the two trees behind him. 

Vasso was waiting in the kitchen when Gogi 
returned, and together they began to prepare the 
Beard of St. Basil. Vasso stripped the bark from 
the tiny tree and closely trimmed the twigs. 
When he had finished this he began to heat the 
tree in the flames of the open fire that burned 
merrily in the middle of the kitchen floor. As he 
turned the tree the wood became hotter and hot- 
ter; steam came from it in little jets and spurts, 
and it seemed ready to burst into flames when 
Vasso withdrew it. The larger end he placed in 
a convenient chink of the wall and on the smaller 



U NOAH*S GRANDCHILDREN 

end he pressed with his stomach. When it was 
caught firmly in this manner he began to draw 
his sharp hatchet along the sides of it, starting 
at the larger end and scraping toward the smaller. 
With each succeeding scrape a long snow-white 
streamer curled up under the razorlike edge of 
the hatchet. 

Scrape — scrape — scrape, went the big hatchet 
in Vasso's big knotty hands, until the httle sap- 
ling was covered with hundreds of silky, snowy 
streamers that made it appear like a huge white 
beard — like the white beard of St. Basil himself, 
as he smiled down from his picture in the circle 
of shining candles at the little church in the vil- 
lage of Ozerget. 

Vasso took a short piece of wood which he had 
chopped from a bough and tied it to the Beard 
at the top where the bare end protruded, making 
in this way a sort of cross. He sharpened the ends 
and gave the whole a twirl that made every hair 
of the Beard stand out like a skirt of a ballet 
dancer. He seemed to be satisfied with his efforts, 
for with a grunt of admiration he placed the 
Beard in the corner and drove his hatchet deep 
into a log of the wall where it was always kept 
when not in use. 



NEW YEAR'S EVE 25 

With the Beard completed, Gogi suddenly 
remembered the cheese and bread which reposed 
in the peak of his bashlikj where he had thrown 
it on returning with the trees. Vasso strode across 
the yard and into the barn; Gogi, left alone, 
found his forgotten food, long cold, and seated 
on the log sill of the kitchen door, began to munch 
it hungrily. 

Vasso reappeared presently, leading his shaggy 
pony, and mounting, trotted out of the yard and 
up the narrow dirt road. Gogi gazed after his 
father's bobbing form as long as it was in sight 
and thought : "He rides to meet natlia-mama, the 
godfather, and Uncle Kola, who come from the 
city." 

A turn in the road swallowed the figure of 
Vasso, and Gogi turned his idle gaze to the 
kitchen. All about him he saw evidence of the 
feast ; on the broad low table lay the pig, singed 
of his bristles in a fire of straw and scrubbed 
white with hot water and shreds of spongy bark. 
Beside the pig lay the long, crooked sapling which 
Gogi had brought from the woods and upon 
which the pig was to be roasted. A barrel of 
pickles stood in a cool corner of the room, farthest 
from the fire in its middle ; the head of the barrel 



26 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

was knocked in and the juicy green tomatoes, 
beans, and cucumbers peeped up through a thin 
layer of oak leaves, ready to be eaten. High on 
the smoky rafters hung a dozen or more of what 
looked very much like huge tallow dips or color- 
less sausages. As the boy's roving eye came to rest 
on these it filled with a greedy light. 

"Sugar sausages," thought he, as he gazed 
yearningly at them. "To-morrow we shall know 
their flavor!" 

Sugar sausages they were, indeed, and Nina, 
the mother, had made them last autumn at the 
time of grape picking. She had boiled a great 
pot of sweet grape juice and corn meal and into 
the thick mixture she had dipped long strings 
of filbert nuts. Like tallow dips, each string had 
been dipped several times and at last hung to 
dry on the high rafters where Gogi now saw them. 
She had poured out the flour and juice that re- 
mained in the pot onto a strip of coarse, home- 
spun silk and placed it in the warm sun to dry; 
when the mush had dried through and through 
Nina had pulled it free of the cloth and roUed it 
up as though it were itself a piece of cloth, and 
placed it in the bottom of the big walnut chest to 
await the feast of St. Basil or some other holiday. 



NEW YEAR'S EVE n 

It was very good to nibble — tough and rubbery 
and sweet. 

While Gogi ate, his mother entered the kitchen 
and, wishing him "a good appetite," began the 
weary round of labor that came with each feast 
day. As soon as Gogi had swallowed the last 
crumb Nina handed to him a heavy wooden object 
that looked very much hke a thick wooden hour- 
glass. She gave him, also, a big smooth pear- 
shaped stone and a shallow pan of nut meats 
mixed with a few lumps of coarse rock salt. 

Gogi had never seen a meat grinder or kitchen 
mill; in fact, he had never heard of one, but in a 
few minutes he was grinding the nut meats and 
salt at a great rate. First he put the nuts and salt 
with a dried red pepper into the hollow of the 
wood; then he began to pound and grind them 
into a pulp with the pear-shaped stone. Nina 
would later mix the ground nuts with warm water 
and vinegar to make a cold sauce for the cold 
roast chicken and turkey. This would be tsuisvoi, 
and no one ever heard of a feast without tsutsivL 

And so the long day passed. Task after task 
was finished by the busy hands of Nina and little 
Keto, and now and then Gogi came in for a share 
of the work. 



28 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

The shadows lengthened and night fell. From 
the little kitchen by the brook came the appetizing 
odors of cooking food and an intermittent thud- 
ding like the muffled roll of a giant drum. The 
drumlike sounds came from the hatok, upon 
which Nina was ironing the table spreads for 
the holiday table. 

Nina folded the great squares of coarse linen 
and wrapped them snugly about a hard wooden 
roller not unlike a long rolhng pin for pastry. 
Placing the roller with its layer of table spread 
upon the kitchen table, she would roll it, always 
in one direction, with a thick, heavy club. This 
club was just about the size and shape of a cricket 
bat that had been slightly bent in the middle and 
of which the flat side had been covered with row 
on row of te^th. As these teeth were drawn across 
the roll of linen, they made the thudding, drum- 
like sounds. Each square of hnen was treated in 
this manner for several minutes, and when it was 
removed it was quite soft and smooth and un- 
wrinkled. 

Little Keto rocked the baby in her tiny carved 
crib to one side, and in the center of the kitchen 
floor the fire blazed merrily. Gogi sat nodding at 



NEW YEAR'S EVE 29 

the day's last task — ^he was roasting the pig for 
the feast. 

The pig, with his tail and ears covered with 
a thick coating of flour to keep them from burn- 
ing, was speared on the wooden spit which Gogi 
had brought from the woods. Each end of the 
sapling spit was held in the crotch of a forked 
stick driven into the dirt floor of the kitchen, and 
as Gogi bore down on its crooked length it turned 
over and over. The pig sizzled and browned as it 
turned with the spit, and the flickering fames 
threw its black shadow onto the wall to somer- 
sault and spin like the giant figure of some 
strange goblin dancing madly to the drumming 
of Nina's katok. 




IV 

The Beard of St. Basil 

HE embers of the open kitchen fire had died 
to a dull red. A last dribble of fat fell from the 
roasted pig and, striking the hot coals, burst with 
a little crackle into a sizzling yellow flame that 
again hghted the still darkness. Keto, the baby, 
and her cradle were gone from the far corner. 
Only a stack of snow-white linen on the table re- 
mained to show where Nina had been working. 
Alone beside the fire squatted Gogi and slum- 
bered, his nose between his knees, his arms hug- 
ging his legs. 

A tall figure loomed in the gray square of the 

30 



THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 31 

kitchen door and a jolly voice shouted, "Victory 
be to this house and to the master of it!" 

Tired as he was, sleep was gone from Gogi in 
a moment, and stumbling hurriedly to his feet, 
he rushed across the earthen floor and into the 
arms of the newcomer. "To thee victory and long 
life!" he cried, as the newly arrived guest em- 
braced him and kissed first one cheek and then 
the other. Then, wrigghng from the hold of the 
tall man, Gogi faced the door and, cupping his 
hands, shouted toward the house, ''Dedal Dedal 
Natlia mowida! Mother! Mother! Godfather is 
come!" 

A light flickered in the dark house, and scarcely 
had the natlia seated himself on the bench which 
Gogi had dragged forward when Nina bustled 
into the kitchen to salute him. "Greetings to thee 
and welcome," said she with a hospitable smile, 
and from the sheltering flare of her wide woolen 
skirts Keto peeped with curious eyes at her 
brother's natlia, who looked very grand to her 
young gaze in his fine town-made clothes and 
tall polished boots of glistening goatskin. 

Arm in arm from the bam, whither they had 
taken the horses, came Vasso and Uncle Kola. 
While Uncle Kola exchanged greetings with Nina 



S2 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

and a bashful, sleepy Keto, Vasso untied his car- 
pet-cloth saddlebags and took from one side a 
three-cornered bundle. 

"It is a batcJii/' cried Gogi joyfully. He lifted 
the batcJii from the table to try its weight. It was 
the almost meatless shoulder bone of a cow, but 
in Guria, where beef is seldom slaughtered, it is 
very rare and difficult to buy. The Gurian host 
who is able to place a batchi before his guests is 
certain of their hearty praise. 

Vasso dragged a huge silver watch from a 
leathern pouch sewed safely to the band of his 
breeches, and glancing at the daggerlike Turkish 
figures on its round dial, he said, "It is near mid- 
night. Let us make ready. And you, Nina, and 
you, Keto — get you to your women's business." 

Nina and Keto returned to the house, and to 
the menfolk standing at the kitchen door soon 
came the rattle of the closing door and its wooden 
bar that clanged into place to lock it. 

"Follow me," said Vasso to the men; and to 
Gogi he added, "Bring the Beard, Gogo-heart." 

The little party, led by Vasso, entered the wine 
shed. Inside the shed lay the long hollowed log 
in which the grapes were trampled to crush out 
the wine. On the log lay a huge wooden bowl as 



THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 33 

big as a washtub. The bowl was heaped high with 
every sort of good thing. 

The curly ends of sugar sausages and the fat 
sides of winter melons peeped from the slopes of 
a great pyramid of fruit and nuts that was piled 
in its center. Around the rim in rows lay ears 
of golden corn; a hank of silk and one of wool; 
a lump of yellow beeswax and a twist of home- 
grown tobacco ; a sprig of tea leaves and one of 
bay; and carrots and beets and a cabbage — in 
short, it was a real cornucopia. 

"Here, Carrier of the Beard," said Vasso, 
"pick fruit for your cross." 

Gogi grabbed in the pile of goodies, and taking 
up a huge rosy apple, he speared it on the sharp- 
ened end of the sapling from which the Beard was 
whittled. On the points of the crosspiece he thrust 
a pear and a pomegranate. Picking up another 
pomegranate, Gogi dug into its dry, red skin with 
the ends of his fingers and made its scarlet juice 
spurt out in little jets that peppered the white 
floss of the Beard with a thousand tiny blood- 
red splashes. 

"Now," said Gogi, "it is my turn to lead." 
Lifting the Beard to his shoulder, he waved a 
hand and cried, "Follow me — Abbar 



84 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

The group ascended the slope from the wine 
shed to the house. First came Gogi, the Carrier 
of the Beard ; then followed the natlia-mama and 
Uncle Kola in single file; Vasso, with the heavy- 
wooden tub balanced on his head, brought up 
the rear. 

Straight to the door led Gogi, and struggling 
up the steep, ladderlike steps with the cumber- 
some Beard, he rapped thrice on the fast-barred 
door with his knuckles. 

"Who is this?" inquired the voice of Nina from 
within. 

"It is I, St. Basil," answered Gogi. 

"What would you of this house, good St. 
Basil?" questioned Nina, without, however, open- 
ing the locked door. 

"I bring to this house a new year with many 
good things," answered Gogi, in the way that he 
had heard his father speak in other years. 

But Nina seemed hard to please, for again she 
asked, "What bring you, good St. Basil?" 

"I bring heavy ears of golden corn," replied 
Gogi patiently. "And sweet syrup of mulberries; 
and wool and fruit and honey in the comb ; and 
much good cheese and tall tobacco with broad 
leaves." 



THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 35 

"It is a lean new year that you bring, good St. 
Basil," said Nina in a disappointed tone, and 
Grogi knew that he had failed in guessing the 
thing that his mother wished most of all for the 
coming year. It was all a game, and Gogi knew, 
too, what was to be done. 

He slipped down the steps to the ground and 
whispered with the others. "What can it be that 
deda wishes?" he inquired of his father. 

"Can it be," suggested Vasso, "a length of 
thin cotton goods with bright flowers on it such 
as she saw in the bazaar? Or perhaps it is a pair 
of scarlet toufli for baby Morro's feet." 

"If it is a picture book for Keto, I have it," 
said the natlia, "Also I have brought a new black 
kerchief for Nina." 

"It is hard to guess a woman's thoughts," said 
Uncle Kola. "If it were a man, I would say that 
he wanted a good crop of grapes or a new saddle 
or a bridle with silver buckles — ^but who knows 
what a woman wants?" 

Again Gogi mounted the steps. He knocked 
at the closed door a second time and again the 
same questions were exchanged. 

Said Gogi, "I bring young lambs and baskets 
of juicy grapes and shoes for baby Morro; I 



36 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

bring love and a silk kerchief and printed cloth 
from the city to the mistress of this house." 

At the mention of the printed cloth the bolt 
rattled and the door swung open. "Enter, St, 
Basil, and welcome to this house," laughed Nina, 
as she embraced Gogi and dragged him into the 
house. ^'Gomarjos Akhalia Tselitsadil Hail to the 
New Year! GomarjosT shouted the men below, 
and Uncle Kola and the natlia, drawing pistols 
from their belts, fired shot after shot into the 
still night air as they greeted the new year. The 
echoes came ringing back from the mountains, 
and with them came the added sounds of other 
gunshots from the neighboring hamlet and faint 
shouts of other merrymakers. 

Gogi placed the Beard in the corner of the room 
beneath the holy picture with its Kttle rushlight, 
and the company sat down to a small table in the 
center of the room, for in Georgia the new year 
is ushered in with food and drink. Nina brought 
cold chicken and a big slab of steaming corn 
bread that had been warmed in the hot ashes of 
the brass mongol that stood in the room. "Good 
appetite," said Nina to the men as she placed 
the food before them. 

The natlia made a place for Gogi at his side 



THE BEARD OF ST. BASIL 37 

and, thrusting a hand into the deep pocket of his 
town-made clothes, produced a package which 
he smuggled into the boy's palm. 

"A chocolate bar," thought Gogi, his mouth 
watering as he recognized the red paper wrapper 
with the silver foil protruding from its ends. He 
took the chocolate bar carefully from its bright 
cover and broke it in half. As he nibbled one 
sweet half he tucked the other back into the paper. 
"I shall save a piece for Vanno," said Gogi to 
himself. "The natlia says that it makes those who 
eat it strong and Vanno will have need of much 
strength when he wrestles at the feast to-morrow." 

Gogi nestled against the tall figure of his god- 
father, very sleepy but very happy and proud 
that he was counted a young man and sat at the 
table with his father and his guests. 

When the men had broken their fast the natlia 
filled a great horn with red wine and, looking 
straight at Vasso, he said as he drank, "Hail to 
this family and long life!" 

"Hail to thee, natlia, and to thee long life," re- 
plied Vasso, bowing and touching first his stom- 
ach, then his lips, and last his brow in salute. 

Then the natlia caught up the bare drumstick, 
the meat of which had been his share of the meal, 



38 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

and twining it between the fingers of one hand, 
he snapped the bone in twain with one swift ges- 
tm-e. This was a custom, and as he did it he turned 
to Nina and said, "Health and strength to the 
hands that cooked this fowl!" 

"Good appetite to the natlia/' replied Nina, 
pleased with the compliment. 

As the things were cleared from the table Uncle 
Kola took down the guitar from its nail in the 
wall and thrummed the strings as he tuned the 
instrument. The natlia and Vasso rolled thick 
funnel-shaped cigarettes from a wooden box that 
Nina placed on the table, and Gogi snuggled still 
closer to the natlia and dozed. 

"Our little frog is asleep," Gogi heard his god- 
father say; and he felt his strong arms around 
him as the natlia lifted him from the bench and 
placed him on the soft felt of the takhta. Nina 
came and drew the warm folds of the coverlet 
over his tired legs. Uncle Kola twanged softly 
at the strings of his guitar; the natlia spoke in a 
low tone with Vasso about the news from the city. 
Somewhere on the hills above a lone jackal howled 
mournfully; Gogi slept in his corner and dreamed 
of the coming feast, and the wrestling match, and 
his hero, Vanno, the blacksmith's son. 




YANNO 



The New Year Feast and Wrestling 



O EE !" said Gogi to little Keto, as they stood 
in the early dawn at the kitchen door. "It is as I 
told you. Vanno is our first guest." 

"Of the New Year! Of the New Year!" 
shouted the blacksmith's sturdy son as he caught 
sight of the watching pair. 

"The best of the New Year to Vanno, the son 



40 NOAH^S GRANDCHILDREN 

of Grigo," answered the brother and sister, and 
Gogi thought, "It is well, after all, that Vanno 
is the first, for if others were here he would not 
care, perhaps, to talk with a boy so young as I 
am." Aloud, he added by way of further greet- 
ing, "Our house is yours and our salt for your 
taste. Welcome!" 

Keto knew, as well as her mother, how a guest 
should be treated, and when Vanno reached the 
door she was ready with a koki of water which 
she poured over his outstretched hands. "Long 
life to you, lady," said Grigo's son as he wiped his 
dripping fingers on the rough linen towel that 
Keto offered. 

Gogi would have hked to sit and talk with 
Vanno of the wresthng match. He would have 
liked to take a peek at Vanno's wrestling shirt, 
for he was quite sure that it was a wrestling shirt 
that Vanno carried in the bundle slung over his 
broad shoulder. Nina's shrill call, however, robbed 
him of these pleasures. He must go to the mill 
for the meal. 

Reaching the brook below the kitchen, Gogi 
followed its banks until he came to the little log 
hut that held the grist mill. Long before he ar- 
rived he could hear the Mmmmmmm-Mmmmm- 



THE NEW YEAR FEAST 41 

mmm-Mmmmmmmm of the spinning stones and 
the musical tinkle of the little stick that, bouncing 
on their rough sides, jiggled the yellow grains of 
corn in a flashing golden stream from a wooden 
hopper into the hollow of the grinding stones. 

With a paddle that was tied to the box about 
the stones, Gogi scraped and scooped a sackful 
of the fluffy drifts of creamy-yellow corn meal. 
As he worked, still more sifted out in little flur- 
ries like flying snow from between the grinders 
that spun so swiftly, driven by the water wheel 
beneath the mill. 

By the time Gogi had left the sack of fresh meal 
with Nina and reached the front of the house a 
group of twenty or more guests had arrived. This 
was not strange to Gogi. Many guests came be- 
cause his father Vasso was a man much esteemed 
by his neighbors and kinsmen and Nina was 
famous for her cooking. To Vasso's house, too, 
came people from the city such as the natlia, who 
was a wealthy and wise man, and Uncle Kola, 
who was a clerk at the Tiflis Courthouse. Such 
people had much to tell which the villagers and 
farmers were eager to hear. 

The group of guests gathered in a close circle 
about two figures that sat on the stoop — a wrin- 



42 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

kled old man and a youth of sixteen or seventeen. 
The old man took from the breast of his long 
worsted coat a hollow wooden pipe with a broad 
reed of cornstalk. The youth unslung from his 
back a deep drum, and when the elder had tuned 
the pipe to his taste the two began to play. 

At first they played slowly, while the circle 
of men clapped their hands or stood, hands on 
hips, beating time with their toes. One measure, 
two measures, three were played ere with a sharp 
cry one of the circle leaped into its middle and 
began a dance. 

One hand on his hip, the other hand held high, 
the dancer glided, spun, and turned from one side 
of the close ring to the other. Faster and faster 
piped the piper and louder and louder came the 
clapping of the onlookers. Here and there a 
watcher chanted a hissing: 

''Tashi! Tashi! . . . Tashi! Tashir 

A hand appeared from without the circle hold- 
ing a glass of wine. Without missing a step of 
his dizzy dance, the dancer grasped the glass and 
placed it on his bared head. This done, he seemed 
to whirl even faster than before. His soft-booted 
feet flew back and forth like the wind, and the 
long skirts of his coat stood out as he spun. With 



THE NEW YEAR FEAST 43 

drawn dagger and steps ten times harder than 
any he had danced before, he made one last mad 
round and halting at the feet of the musicians, 
snatched the brimming glass from his head to 
drink it amid a storm of applause and loud shouts 
of "Hail, Hail!" 

When the dance ended the circle broke up and 
regathered about the long table which Vasso had 
built the morning before. "Hail to our tulum- 
bashr cried Vasso, pressing a huge horn of wine 
into the big hand of Grigo the blacksmith, who 
lived with his son Vanno in the valley below. This 
meant that Grigo had been chosen the Head of 
the Table for the time of the feast. It was his 
duty to see that everyone got a full share of the 
food, no matter how shy they might be; and it 
was Grigo's horn that would be first raised in 
every toast in turn — to the house of Vasso, to 
his wife and family, to his good fortune in the 
new year, and to Vasso himself and all the guests 
in turn. 

The musicians, too, sat at the table, and when 
a pause came in the feasting they would strike 
up a hvely tune and the guests would join in 
a merry song. Sometimes a guest would rise from 
his seat and dance as had the first. 



44 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

At last the table was emptied. The little piles 
of salt and the steaming heaps of corn-meal 
mush stuffed with melting hunks of cheese that 
stood on the bare boards between each pair of 
guests had dwindled and disappeared. A little 
gravy specked with flakes of red pepper was all 
that remained of the heaping bowls of tsutsivi, 
and of the great pig, the stripped bones alone 
remained. 

Then it was that Grigo, the Head of the Table, 
took up the batchL Drawing his sharp knife from 
its sheath at his belt, he carved and passed to each 
guest a morsel of gristly meat from the shoulder. 
When the last one had been served Grigo raised 
the big shovel-shaped bone high in his strong 
right hand and brought it smashing down on the 
knuckles of his left with a blow that shattered 
it into a dozen pieces. It was a custom, and turn- 
ing to Vasso he said, "Long life to the padrone 
(master) of this house! Glory to his bread and 
salt and may he crush his evils as I have crushed 
this hatchir 

As Grigo was finishing this last toast his son 
Vanno beckoned Gogi to his side and whispered, 
'*Bring my wrestling shirt from the corner of your 
kitchen where I left it." 



THE NEW YEAR FEAST 45 

When Gogi returned with the wrestling shirt 
or coat, Vanno stood ready for the match. Oppo- 
site him stood another young man who was per- 
haps a few years older but about the same weight. 
Both were barefooted and stripped to the waist. 
As Gogi approached he unrolled the coat. It was 
very much like a rough woolen dressing gown 
from which the sleeves had been ripped, and the 
back of which had been slit from the bottom up 
to the belt. 

Vanno slipped his muscular bare arms through 
the holes of the garment, and as he fastened the 
front with leather laces he cried to Gogi, "Tie the 
knot with a lucky hand, Gogi; tie the knot!" 

Gogi knew what was expected of him, although 
he had never done it before. He lifted the split 
skirts of the coat and tied them in a firm knot 
at Vanno's waist. "The fortune and blessing oJ^ 
White Georgi be with you, Vanno!" he cried, 
as he completed his task and stepped back into 
the ring of guests that stood awaiting the match. 

The ever-present musicians began a merry 
tune. Vanno and his opponent began to circle one 
another in a sort of dance. They lifted their feet 
high from the ground as they pranced and leaped 
to the music of the pipe and drum. Now and then 



46 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

one or the other would stoop as he danced and 
rub the palms of his hands in the dirt of the yard. 
This was to give them a better grip with no fear 
of slipping when the real battle began. 

"They are like a couple of roosters/' thought 
Gogi, as he watched the two wrestlers circle and 
stoop ; "and the loose ends of their wrestling coats 
stick out behind as do the tails of roosters." 

"They have a hold," sTiouted an excited voice. 
As though tired of playing about the wrestlers 
had at last grappled. Each had grasped the other 
by the loose breast folds of the wool coats with 
one hand, while they fought to catch the tail-hke 
knot in the other. 

Back and forth they strained. Their bare arms 
and foreheads became moist with little drops of 
sweat that gathered and streamed down their hot 
faces in trickles. The music still played but their 
feet no longer danced; they seemed rather to be 
glued to the earth. Their heads were pressed to- 
gether like two fighting rams, and their breath 
came in little sobs and sucks. 

Gogi watched the wide-spread feet of Vanno. 
As he watched, one foot crept slowly backward; 
Vanno 's head twisted to one side and with a quick 
swing his free right arm shot over the youth's 



THE NEW YEAR FEAST 47 

shoulder and clutched his knotted coat. The rear 
foot shot forward to strike his opponent's stiff 
knee ; a grunt, a mighty heave, and Vanno stood, 
hand raised in victory, over the prone form of 
his antagonist. 

There was a moment's pause and then the 
watchers shouted in one voice, "Glory to the vic- 
tor — life to Vanno, the son of Grigo!" Hands be- 
gan to clap; the music played still louder, and 
Vanno danced again. This time it was the dance 
of the victor. "This, too, is like the roosters," 
thought Gogi, and he was very happy that his 
own friend had won the match. He was even 
happier when Vanno had finished his dance, for 
the smith's son came straight to his side and 
kissed him thrice on the cheek. 

"Life to the hand that tied the knot of my 
wrestling coat," said he. "Thanks to you, Gogi- 
heart!" 

"Not to me be thanks," answered Gogi in a 
happy voice. "But to my Holy Namesake to 
Whom I prayed — thanks be to White St. Georgi, 
the Victorious." 

So passed the Feast of St. Basil, and as eve- 
ning came on the guests began to depart in one's 
and two's for their homes. Those who lived far- 



48 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

thest left first, and Nina and Keto were kept busy- 
in preparing for each one a lunch for the road. 
On long spears of wood were stuck lumps of 
bread and slices of meat, a round pat of cheese 
or perhaps an apple or pomegranate. Each de- 
parting guest rode up on his horse to bid fare- 
well and receive his lunch. The remaining men 
admired and criticised each horse in turn and 
fingered the long steel bits and the silver-medal- 
lioned bridles before the rider galloped away with 
a flourish and a shouted good-bye, accompanied 
by a fusillade of pistol shots and wishes for a 
"good road." 

Night found Gogi again in his bed and Vasso, 
Uncle Kola, and the natlia seated at the table. 
fUncle Kola again thrummed the strings of his 
guitar and hummed a little tune. Vasso and the 
natlia-mama spoke in low tones and Gogi dreamed 
— dreamed not of the day to come, but of the 
day that had gone ; of the dancing and the songs ; 
of the prancing horses and shiny high saddles and 
jingling bits; and best of all, he dreamed of the 
wrestling match and Vanno, the smith's son, as 
he stood over hii§ beaten opponent. 




VI 

The Feast of the Baptism 

and 
The Tale of the Khevsours 



o 



NE morning in January Vasso did not rise 
from his seat at the broad kitchen table on finish- 
ing his breakfast. Instead, he leaned back against 
the wall and casually rolled a stubby funnel- 
shaped cigarette from coarse tobacco, meanwhile 
motioning Keto to bring him a coal from the open 
kitchen fire. 

Long blue spirals ascended from the burning 
tip of Vasso's cigarette and, blending with the 
smoke clouds from the kitchen fire, floated out 
into the morning air through the round opening 
in the kitchen ceiling. It was the Feast of the 



50 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Baptism, and Vasso, banishing all thoughts of 
work, sat lazily watching his wife and daughter 
at their daily chores. The baby, as usual, slept. 

Gogi was not at home; he had set out in the 
first early light for the church at Ozerget to be 
at the "Blessing of the Water." While Nina and 
Keto busied themselves in the kitchen and Vasso 
sat and smoked, Gogi stood with a throng of 
friends and kinsmen on the bank of the little 
stream that flowed beside the old stone church in 
the village. 

Nearest the stream stood the bent old priest, 
surrounded by deacons and singers. After a long 
chant in which priest, deacons, and choir partici- 
pated, the old priest raised his wrinkled hands 
aloft and blessed the water in the name of the 
Holy Trinity. From the hands of a deacon he 
received a silver cross, and after this, too, had 
been blessed he recalled in a few words Christ's 
baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, and 
cast the cross into the water with a gentle splash. 

Irmnediately all was excitement ; a dozen young 
men cast themselves, clothed as they were, into 
the chilly stream, seeking the cross. First a dea- 
con filled a huge silver bowl with the blessed 



FEAST OF BAPTISM 51 

water; then, group by group, the villagers ap- 
proached the brook and filled the jars and flasks 
with which they had prepared themselves. 

It was held by many that this water had the 
power of healing; such water could be kept for 
years without losing its sweetness or becoming 
murky. What better proof of its good properties 
could be desired? 

When all had amply supplied themselves with 
holy water they fell in line behind the priest to be 
led in song and prayer from the brook to the 
church. With lighted candles and swinging cen- 
sers the procession moved along; at every step 
the aged priest blessed his flock and, dipping a 
little broom of hyssop into the deacon's huge 
bowl, sprinkled them all with tiny drops of holy 
water. 

When the procession disbanded at the church 
Gogi did not tarry with the scattered groups that 
remained about the door to jest and gossip. 
Tying together the long necks of his several 
earthen jars of holy water, he slung them care- 
fully over his shoulder and set out for home with 
the long swinging stride of the hill people. 

As Gogi neared home his store of water be- 



52 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

came smaller and smaller, for at gate after gate 
he was greeted by some neighbor who had been 
unable to attend the Blessing of the Water, but 
who craved a few drops of the holy liquid. Gogi 
gladly parted with a small share to each that asked 
and as gladly pocketed the occasional coppers 
they offered with their thanks. By the time he 
joined his parents and sister in the kitchen he had 
disposed of almost all of his water; only one small 
jug remained and this he gave to his mother, who 
received it with a devout sign of the cross. 

Gogi seated himself at the table and Keto set 
before him his share of the breakfast. As he ate, 
his father inquired after the health of his kins- 
men and friends whom Gogi had seen at the 
church. 

The boy had something to tell of each. To his 
father's inquiry concerning the priest's visits to 
the parishioners' homes (an event which follows 
the Blessing of the Water) , Gogi rephed that the 
good man would travel first on the Lantchout 
road. Nina then knew that the priest would be 
with them soon after midday and that there would 
be no need to make ready for him a special meal. 
One large hen, broiled, would be enough. 



FEAST OF BAPTISM 53 

True to Nina's forecast the shadows had just 
begun to lengthen when the priest and his at- 
tendant deacon appeared at the bend of the road. 
Sharp-eyed Keto, as always, saw them first and 
ran excitedly screaming the news to her mother. 

They were ahorse, and the priest rode first, 
hands folded on the high pommel and the long 
skirts of his heavy woolen cassock gathered about 
his legs to free his feet. A few paces to the rear 
rode the gloomy deacon in a worn tchokka; under 
one arm he held a bulky bundle wrapped in white 
linen. They slackened their pace as they turned 
into the yard, and Gogi raced forward to grasp 
the reins of their horses. 

The reverend couple halted before the stoop 
and before dismounting the priest raised his hands 
and blessed the smiling family that stood on the 
porch to greet him. 

This little ceremony observed, the priest 
climbed from his pony and, shaking out the folds 
of his cassock, allowed himself to be ushered into 
the house by the bowing family. The deacon, after 
turning the mounts over to Gogi's care, followed 
his superior and received his share of the bowing 
and hand shaking. 



54 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Once in the house the group made their way to 
the large front room, in the corner of which the 
family's holy pictures or icons hung, lighted by 
the feeble flicker of a tiny scarlet rushhght. The 
priest donned a gold-embroidered surplice which 
the deacon produced from his white bundle, fixed 
his gaze on the burning icon, and began to gesture 
and pray. 

Meanwhile the deacon took his silver bowl from 
the bundle, also, and placed it on a little table 
which Nina had covered with a spotless white 
coverlet. He then poured into the bowl a few drops 
of the precious holy water which Gogi had that 
morning brought from the church brook after the 
Blessing, and lighting several tiny wax tapers, 
gave one to each of the family except baby Morro, 
who lay quietly watching them from her little 
crib. 

His prayer completed, the priest motioned to 
the deacon to take up the bowl of water. Then 
followed a service just like the one at the brook- 
side church. Priest and deacon, followed by the 
family, walked slowly from room to room carry- 
ing burning tapers. The deacon chanted in a great 
deep voice and the priest, dipping his little broom 



I 



FEAST OF BAPTISM 55 

of hyssop into the bowl, sprinkled the corners, 
doorposts, and floor of the little home with holy 
water and blessings. 

Baby Morro came in for a good share of both 
blessings and water, and both seemed to please 
her, for she cooed happily and caught at the little 
droplets with one free hand. 

Nor were the blessings confined to the house. 
Barnyard and cattle sheds, chicken house, kitchen, 
and beehives were all blessed and sprinkled before 
the good priest became content. At last, however, 
the round was made and the group reentered the 
house, where Nina had spread a table with food. 

Here the priest mumbled a last prayer, and 
with a sign of the cross that took in the whole table 
and company, he sat down to meat. 
' The priest and his assistant had eaten at an 
earlier stop so their hunger was soon satisfied, 
but the good men were tired and Vasso was a 
man to whom everyone hked to talk. Keto's shy- 
ness wore off after a while and, reassured by the 
smile of the old priest, she searched beneath the 
felt mattress of her takhta and brought out the 
book of pictures which the natlia had given her at 
the Feast of St. Basil. 



56 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"What is this?" asked the priest, as he took 
the book from her outstretched hand. 

"It is a book of tales which the Frankish chil- 
dren read," replied Keto. "The words are in the 
letters of the foreigners but the pictures are col- 
ored and very beautiful to see. Little Father." 

The priest took a pair of spectacles with square 
glasses from the lining of his fur hat, and adjust- 
ing them on the end of his long red nose, he opened 
the painted covers of the Frankish story book. 

"It is a shame that such good paper should be 
used for tales," grumbled the old man. "It is thick 
and glossy and as smooth as glass." 

He turned several pages and paused at the 
picture of a gnome. "Who is this little hunch- 
back?" he inquired with a frown. 

In a few words Keto repeated the tale of the 
gnome as the natlia had told it to her. 

"The tale is a good one," agreed the priest, 
"but the man has an evil look." 

The priest turned a few more pages and came 
to the bright picture of a knight in armor. The 
knight was mounted on a snow-white horse, and 
the shield which he carried on his arm and the flag 
on the haft of his long spear were marked with 
the sign of the cross. 



FEAST OF BAPTISM 57 

"The good man's wrinkled old face broke into 
a pleased smile as he admired the brave picture. 
"Surely," said he, "this good knight is a Defender 
of the Faith! What other would carry the holy 
sign of our Lord?" 

"It is the king of the Inglisi/' said Keto. "I 
know the tale. He was called Levis-gulij the Lion- 
hearted, and he fought for the Holy Sepulchre." 

"Aye," said the priest, "I have heard of him; 
and who has not, for excepting our own White 
Georgi there was none greater than he unless 
it was perhaps Gurg-Arslan — the Wolf-Lion of 
Georgia." 

"Did White Georgi fight for the Holy Sepul- 
chre?" inquired Gogi. "Our Gurian bowmen 
fought with the Saracens, did they not, Little 
Father?" 

"There were no longer bows than ours drawn 
against the infidels," said the priest proudly. "Our 
Gurian arrows were so big that a young pig could 
be roasted on one; but White Georgi had been 
in heaven many years at that time. In heaven to 
greet our Gurian bowmen, for few returned from 
that last Holy War." 

"But were not the Khevsuri who live on the 
steep mountain slopes of Svaneti Defenders of 



58 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

the Faith?" asked Vasso, who had traveled over 
all Georgia and knew many strange places. 

"Yes," assented the priest. "The Khevsuri were 
Carriers of the Cross, but they are not Georgians." 

"Who are the Khevsuri," asked Gogi, who was 
always eager to learn of new things. 

"The Khevsuri are flaxen-haired and have 
square heads," explained the Little Father. 
"They are not like our raven-haired, round- 
headed Georgians, for they are foreigners. Their 
people are the Germani, and the fathers of our 
Khevsuri were Carriers of the Cross who, return- 
ing from the Holy War by the road through our 
country, met with so many hardships that they 
despaired of ever again seeing their homeland. 
With the Georgians they found a warm Chris- 
tian welcome and bread and salt." 

"But they do not live with us," wondered Keto. 
"Why do they live high in the mountains where 
there is much cold and little to eat when they 
might be happier on warm lower slopes?" 

The old priest frowned as though the question 
puzzled him. "Who can say the thoughts of Ger- 
mani?" he replied. "They are not Georgians, for 
they do not speak our tongue nor do they drink 
our wine. They have their own priests and their 



FEAST OF BAPTISM 59 

own churches high in the mountains. The paths 
to them would try the skill of our sure-footed 
Gurian hillmen. Their very fields are so steep that 
when they harvest their wheat, which grows no 
higher than sheep's grass, they are forced to tie 
themselves with ropes to get a footing." 

"Do their priests bless them and their houses 
as you have ours this feast day?" asked Gogi, 
wanting to learn still more of his strange neigh- 
bors. 

''I fear they do not," responded the priest with 
a sigh. "They have lost many of their Christian 
ways in the high mountains. On feast days they 
bring out the old armor which has been handed 
down from father to son and, donning it, they 
fight with sword and spear as did their forefathers 
at the side of the brave king of the Inglisi" 

"Oh!" cried Gogi excitedly. "They still have 
their old swords? And do they hurt one another?" 

"They sometimes hurt one another very badly," 
said the priest with a sad shake of his gray head. 
"And they still have their fathers' old swords and 
shields. This is true because the weapons are 
marked with tiny crosses and half -moons stamped 
in the rusty steel. Each tiny cross means that 
some good Christian owned the sword or shield. 



60 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

and each half -moon shows that it was in the hands 
of an infidel." 

"I see," said Gogi. "If a sword has three half- 
moons and four crosses it shows that it belonged 
at different times to three infidels and four Chris- 
tians." 

"You are right," said the Little Father, and 
closing the story book with a start, as though he 
had just remembered how long he had tarried in 
one house, he rose to go. 

Amid farewells the priest and his deacon 
mounted their horses, which Gogi had brought 
to the bottom of the steps. As they trotted through 
the gate and down the road Gogi turned and 
gazed up at the ice-capped peaks of the towering 
mountains. 

"They fight with sword and spear like their 
fathers did at the side of the Lion-hearted! The 
Carriers of the Cross are still alive," thought he. 
"And they in our own mountains!" 

The rays of the setting sun flashed back from 
the snowclad ridges, and to Gogi they were the 
flashing swords and shields and spearheads of 
Saracens and Carriers of the Cross. To him it 
seemed that he heard the angry thudding of their 
war horses' mad feet and the resounding blows 



FEAST OF BAPTISM 61 

of sword on shield. But it was only the drumming 
of Nina's katok as she rolled the wrinkles from 
her store of fresh- washed linen, and the ringing 
strokes of Vasso's heavy ax as he split the wood 
for the kitchen fire. 




VII 

A Trip to the Village Smithy 



T, 



HE time came when passing neighbors always 
spoke of plowing. If they were driving carts one 
was almost certain to see the long handles of a 
plow jutting out beyond the tailboard like a huge 
pair of horns. They would be taking their plows 
to Grigo, the smith, for sharpening or, what is 
more Ukely, to be fitted with new irons. 

One day a passing villager from the upper val- 
ley stopped before the gate to rest and to tell 



A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 63 

Vasso that it was now his turn at the smithy. 
Grigo expected him and his work with the rising 
sun. As the dusty traveler refreshed himself with 
a great gourd dipper of red wine which Nina had 
hastened to bring him, he told of meeting others 
at the smithy — of what they each had said, how 
many hsevs of corn and how much tobacco they 
hoped to plant, and whether the rains would kill 
the silkworms. And Gogi, standing with his hands 
folded respectfully across his stomach, listened 
with dehght and thought of the morrow. 

Just as the first glow of dawn began to fringe 
the jagged black mountain wall with silver a 
voice called out and Gogi crept sleepily from his 
warm couch. He shivered a little as he stood half 
dozing, for the draft that filtered up through the 
cracks of the rough floor boards was still uncom- 
fortably sharp with the chill of night. He groped 
about him in search of his clothing and when 
questing fingers grasped the soft, smooth silki- 
ness of his holiday tchohha instead of the familiar 
harsh wool of his everyday blouse he remembered 
with a pleasant shock the reason for it, and all 
thoughts of another little nap were at once for- 
gotten. Grigo, the smith; Vanno, his son; the 



64 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

forge, the buffaloes to be shod, and old friends to 
be seen once again ! A great day, indeed ! 

Gogi was soon dressed and a moment later 
slipped noiselessly through the door, across the 
narrow porch, and down the steep steps. As he 
passed the water koki^ he snatched it up to his lips 
and took a big mouthful of its water, which he 
spurted into his hands and splashed over his face 
as he hastened toward the black barns. The yard 
was shadowy in the gray half-light that comes be- 
fore daybreak, and near the silent sheds the empty 
bullock cart, with its pole and dangling yoke 
pointed skyward, stood pale and ghostly like the 
gaunt white skeleton of some strange beast. 

A wheezy sigh and a slight rustle told Gogi 
that the buffaloes slept in the deep shadow of the 
wine press, and taking up a little stick, he urged 
them grumblingly to their feet and drove them 
with sharp prods and soft words in the direction 
of the tilted cart. When the animals came under 
the hanging yoke, Gogi halted them and mount- 
ing the cart, clambered up the pole so that with 
his added weight he forced it down in a wide curve 
until a buffalo's neck was snugly caught in each 
joke. The yoke on, Gogi lashed the ends of the 
great forks fitted to either end of the wooden 



A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 65 

forks that reached below the loose folds of the 
animals' neck with strips of raw-hide, and the 
cart was ready for the road. 

As Gogi made fast the last leather thong his 
father descended the steps of the house, his saddle 
swinging across his shoulder. 

^'Ess ki sakmel ( Good work ) ," said Vasso, well 
pleased at finding the cart and team ready and 
waiting. And as he strode on toward the barn 
he added: "Bring, now, the khurjhini from their 
place in the kitchen." 

Gogi, after first taking a short stout stick from 
the front of the cart and placing it under the tip 
of the pole so that its weight would be lifted from 
the drowsing bullocks' necks, made his way across 
the brightening yard to the little hut on the brook's 
edge where food was stored and cooked. On a 
convenient peg, driven into a chink of the log 
wall, he found the khurjhini^ or saddlebags. Their 
strong carpet sides, woven in gay colored pat- 
terns, bulged out to the bursting point, and the 
narrow strip of frayed leather that bound the 
bags together stretched and creaked as Gogi lifted 
them down onto his head. 

The bags were far too heavy and bulky for 
Vasso's saddle, so Gogi slung them by their strap 



66 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

over the slatted side of the cart. He then took 
the stick from beneath the pole and led the team 
to the yawning black door of the barn. From the 
inner darkness came the sound of clanking bit 
and stirrups and the occasional duckings of Vasso 
to quiet the impatient pony. Presently Gogi's 
father emerged, leading the saddled horse. He 
threw the loose reins over the big wooden tholepin 
that held the yoke to the pole of the cart and, 
calling to Gogi, turned back to where the awk- 
ward wooden plow leaned against the wall of the 
bam. Together, father and son, they dragged it 
from its place and loaded it upon the waiting 
cart. 

Gogi, after hunting about a bit, found a flat 
splinter of wood which he dipped into a ram's 
horn filled with soft soap that hung by a loop to 
the frame of the cart. With a liberal daub of 
the horn's contents on the end of his chip, he 
crawled under the cart and freely smeared the 
smooth wooden axle with the slimy, greasy mess. 
Georgian carts have their solid wooden wheels 
fixed fast to large strong axles which turn in a 
half-round nest on the bottom of the body, and 
if the axle were not well covered with soap or 
something similar it would soon grow very hot 



A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 67 

and might, perhaps, even burst into flames. At 
the very least, it would rapidly wear away under 
the heavy loads it is called upon to carry. 

AU was now ready for the trip and Vasso, lifting 
the reins from the tholepin, mounted .his shaggy, 
slim-legged pony. He looked very grand as he 
rode for the gate, seated erectly on the fat leather 
cushion of his high Circassian saddle. The pony 
arched his neck and swerved as his thudding feet 
beat an impatient tattoo on the soft dirt path. 
As Vasso waved his quirt in a last signal for the 
start Gogi turned to his ugly, workaday steeds 
with something almost like a sigh, for he, too, 
yearned for a prancing, dashing pony, a tall black 
saddle with pearl studs, and a red tasseled saddle 
pad of brilliant felt. 

"Still," thought he, "it is not given to every- 
body to drive so fine a yoke of buffaloes as ours 
are!" And with that he perched himself atop the 
broad timber of the great yoke. "Ho, Rustam! 
Ho, Nazira!" he shouted in a voice as much like 
Vasso's as he could make it. "Come along, my 
darlings, come along," he urged, and gave each 
a resounding whack with a thin switch he car- 
ried. 

Now a little twig such as this could never sting 



68 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

the tough and almost hairless hide of a water 
buffalo, but both the great coal-black beasts 
grumbled and complained loudly and made their 
strange blue-gray eyes appear very fierce and 
terrible. This, however, is just a way that water 
buffaloes have, and they lumbered off, with much 
pawing of their feet and shaking of their sharp 
black horns, dragging the creaking cart behind 
them. Gogi sat between the two black heads, feet 
dangling, and sang a song as he swayed to the 
steady swing of his team. 

"Ho h la, ho h la. 

Ho ^h la, ho h." 

Gogi's song would not have been much of a 
song in a town or city. It had very few notes and 
no words at all, but it sounded well to Gogi and 
the buffaloes seemed to like it. It might, in fact, 
have pleased anyone who chanced to hear it on 
that clear cool morning silence, for as he sang a 
note it echoed and reechoed from the hills and 
woods until there was something very much hke 
a whole choir singing "hoh-la, hoh-la" in all sorts 
of wonderful combinations, to which the cart 
played a creaky, fluty accompaniment. 



A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 69 

The road to the smithy stretched downhill and 
the wooden yoke, slipping forward, rested on the 
strong horns of the two buffaloes. They threw 
their heads back to take the strain and held their 
necks so low that a stranger would have expected 
their end any minute. This, again, was just the 
buffaloes' strange way of doing things, for going 
downhill at a slow walk was exactly what they 
liked to do. They did not mind hard work, either, 
and never balked if they were not thirsty or did 
not chance to get the silly notion of taking a mud 
bath. Water buffaloes are very fond of baths, and 
when they are very tired they sometimes balk 
and demand a nice bath of cool mud. To-day, 
however, they were neither tired nor hot, so they 
trudged patiently along the road to Grigo and 
his smithy. No motorcycles dashed sputteringly 
by, and no motor cars passed to crowd them into 
the roadside ditches or fill their blue eyes and 
moist noses with blinding, stifling dust. In truth, 
the only really unpleasant thing that can happen 
to a water buffalo in Georgia is a visit to the shoe- 
ing smith, and they did not know, as yet, that 
they were booked for one. 

One verst, two versts, four versts of the rutted 
clay road crawled beneath the bouncing, rattling 



70 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

cart before the latter topped a little crest and 
Gogi caught his first glimpse of the familiar 
smithy in the valley below. Excited with its near- 
ness, he jumped down from his swaying seat and 
urged his team forward with a renewed zeal. But 
the lumbering pair refused to quicken their mea- 
sured, shambling pace. 

Vasso had ridden rapidly ahead, and Gogi 
fancied that he could pick his father's horse from 
among the jostling group that stood about Grigo's 
long hitching rack. Never had buffaloes seemed so 
slow. The last quarter verst seemed longer than 
the first two, but it, too, passed, and Gogi brought 
his team to a willing halt before the smithy door 
withaloud"Bbbbbbbbb!" 

Vanno appeared from the sooty depths of his 
father's shop, and after giving Gogi a bearlike 
embrace and warm greeting, took a grimy hand 
in unyoking the team. Having recognized the 
smithy for what it was, the buffaloes were becom- 
ing disturbed, and Vanno with all his wrestler's 
strength was scarcely able to drag them to the 
shoeing block. 

When the animals were safely tied the two boys 
entered the smithy. Full in the light of the open 
double doors stood Grigo's slender, sharp-pointed 



A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 71 

anvil. It was driven into a huge block of walnut 
wood, and a little to one side a heavy slab of iron 
rested on another, smaller block. This second 
anvil was the one used in flattening the thin iron 
plates with which buffaloes were shod. 

Behind the anvils, but within an easy pace of 
them, stood the forge, with a hood of iron to 
catch the smoke and sparks. In the gloom of 
the smithy its smoldering charcoal embers 
gleamed like the cheerful red eye of some friendly 
demon. Slung fast to the rafters above the forge 
hung the giant leather bellows, and a long, seamy 
leather hose, like an elephant's wrinkled trunk, 
curled snakily down from its smaller end to feed 
the fire with air. 

When Gogi's eyes had become accustomed to 
the murkiness he was able to recognize the black- 
smith and his father, Vasso, among a group in 
the farther corner. A half dozen men, some on 
their saddles and some on their own heels, sat 
in a close circle about a disused anvil block. On 
the block's broad flat top were scattered great 
hunks of corn bread, juicy slices of fresh cheese, 
and fragments of roasted chicken. On the dirt 
floor at Grigo's side stood a brown clay kokL It 
was filled, no doubt, with wine, for even as Gogi 



7e NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

looked the smith lifted the slim-necked jar and 
filled from it a shiny black drinking horn which 
he passed with a salute and a reverent "God 
given" to his nearest neighbor. 

No place was made at the makeshift table 
for young Gogi, but he was met with friendly 
greeting by friend and stranger alike, and Grigo's 
horny but hospitable hand passed him a hberal 
helping from the pile of food. Vanno, after his 
first friendly embrace, seemed to think that he 
had fully repaid his young friend for his warm 
support and admiration at the last New Year's 
wrestling match. His sixteen years and big mus- 
cles gave him a place with his elders which he 
hastened to resume. 

Gogi, left to his own devices, wandered about 
the shop, gazing interestedly at the sprawling 
piles of newly forged hoes and mattocks and 
timidly fingering the smooth handles of Grigo's 
hammers and tongs. He placed his thick shce 
of cheese on the forge fire to toast, and even gave 
the bellows rope a few timid jerks to blow the 
fire. When a few sparks flew crackling up he 
became bolder and pulled harder. More sparks 
crackled and flew, and then there came a little 
spurt of yellow flame. It was Gogi's forgotten 



A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 73 

slice of cheese. He rescued it from the fiery fur- 
nace and proudly ate it, although there was little 
left after he had scraped the char from it. 

The men finished their meal and arose, wiping 
the food crumbs from their long mustachios with 
the backs of their hands. Some moved across to 
choose new hoes, mattocks, and spades from the 
piles on the floor. One small knot of curious ones 
collected about an American all-metal plow that 
awaited repairs. They loudly praised its graceful 
curves and gay red paint and exclaimed in sur- 
prise at its unexpected light weight. With all 
its breadth of keen steel share and its metal frame 
it was still far lighter than the native wooden tools. 
These are made by the Georgian farmer and are 
little more than a crooked stick shod with a point 
of iron. 

Meanwhile Grigo and Vanno had thrown the 
resisting buffaloes to the ground and lashed their 
feet to two long poles, each end of which rested 
in the waist-high crotch of a forked stick driven 
into the earth. Buffaloes are very agile kickers, 
and as they greatly dislike being shod, they must 
be well tied. 

Father and son took each an animal, and in a 
trice the old shoe plates, thin as paper, were 



74 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

ripped off. Since the feet were turned up in so 
convenient a position it took very little time to 
file a smooth surface and firmly nail a new half- 
circle of iron plate to each half of a cloven hoof. 
Released from their uncomfortable position, 
when the job was completed, the buffaloes seemed 
to know that their misery was over. They stood 
with hanging heads and docile as lambs. 

Vasso, like most Georgians, had some skill in 
all trades, and when Gogi led the fresh-shod team 
back to the cart he found that his father had al- 
ready fitted a plow iron without the smith's help. 
The plow was again in the cart, and beside it 
was a small pile of newly bought spades, mat- 
tocks, and hoes. Vasso's horse was gone from the 
rack and his saddle from the smithy. Vasso had 
returned, and Gogi was very proud that his father 
had trusted him to oversee the shoeing and find 
his own way home. 

Gogi wished that he might ask Vanno to show 
him some wrestling holds and trick falls, but a 
glance at the long line of animals waiting to be 
shod told him that the smith's son would have 
little time for such talk. 

As the rumbling cart and its small driver passed 
the smithy the smith dropped his task to wave 



A TRIP TO THE SMITHY 75 

his gnarled hand in a cheery good-bye, and as 
Gogi turned out into the road he felt a touch on 
his arm. It was Vanno, and giving Gogi a hand 
clasp that nearly crushed the younger boy's fin- 
gers, the smith's son said : 

"Surely we shall meet at the Easter wrestling 
and you shall tie my wrestling coat, for your hand 
brings luck. May your troubles be mine. Fare- 
well!" 

With these words Gogi received a mighty clout 
on his shoulder and he heard something fall clank- 
ing into his cart as Vanno turned and disappeared 
in the gloom of his father's shop. Gogi pulled 
the ^'something" out. It was a real steel trap for 
catching wild animals — one such as is to be bought 
in the shops of the cities — and Vanno had made 
it with his own hand as a thank offering in return 
for Gogi's admiration of his wrestling. 

The buffaloes seemed to sense that they were 
on their homeward journey, for although the 
trail lay, for the most part, uphill they lumbered 
along at a rapid pace. The yoke swayed so vio- 
lently with their speed that it no longer served 
as a comfortable seat for Gogi, so the boy trotted 
along beside his team and cut at the dry road- 



76 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

side weeds and grasses with the now unnecessary 
switch. 

As he trotted, Gogi sang a song. The echo an- 
swered. The cart creaked its accompaniment and 
the spades and mattocks made a merry jingUng. 

"Ho ^h la, ho ^h la, 

Ho ^hla,ho ^h!" 




VIII 



Easter 



I 



T WAS nearing midnight — Easter Eve. 

High in the bell tower of the old stone church, 
amid the knotted ends of the swinging bell ropes, 
sat Shaliko Tomadze. Shaliko, bent and seventy, 
was the bell ringer of the church of Ozerget, and 
as he sat now on a ledge of the draf ty bell tower 
and gazed with sad brown eyes through the nar- 
row, slitlike window, the gentle spring breeze 
stirred his sparse gray beard. 

An old tin lantern dimly lighted the tower 



77 



78 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

room, and in its rays the ropes looked black and 
strange. Their shadows writhed and squirmed on 
the stone walls like great crawling serpents. The 
night without was peaceful and the stars shone 
brightly. The putt-putt of the pumping engine 
at the water station was silent, and no sound broke 
the stillness but the occasional creak of a cart or 
rattle of hoofs as some belated worshiper arrived 
at the door of the church. 

Here and there, in the dark yard below, a torch 
or smudge shed its smoky light. In the cover near 
the hedge stood a tent of homemade tapestries, 
and now and then a black figure entered bearing 
an Easter cake or cheese tarts. Later they would 
be blessed by the old priest. 

Despite the fact that it was the eve of a great 
feast day, ShaHko was bored because he had noth- 
ing to do. But if someone had given him some- 
thing to do he would have been still more dis- 
satisfied, for he was lazy and loved only to talk 
and tell tales. His laziness would have brought 
him a death by starvation had not his wagging 
tongue won such a large circle of friends. Indeed, 
these friends had secured for him the post of bell 
ringer. 

His face as a teller of tales actually brought 



EASTER 79 

listeners up the dizzy steps to the tower room. 
They were mostly boys, and Shaliko was usually 
able to shift a fair share of his bell pulling onto 
them. 

"A miserable hour," grumbled Shahko to him- 
self, frowning at the sputtering lamp. "Not one 
comes! When no one wants them they all come!" 

After a little while, however, Shaliko heard the 
murmuring of voices and stifled giggles on the 
ladder that led to the tower room, and soon after 
a round black head with laughing eyes popped 
up through the trapdoor at ShaUko's side. One, 
then another and another, until three young lads 
stood before the old bell ringer. 

They were Gogi, Givi, and Aleko. After a 
friendly greeting, all three spoke at one time and 
told an exciting story of how Givi had nearly 
fallen down the spiral stair as he stumbled in the 
darkness. 

"You might well have made cheese of your 
nose," said Shaliko, shaking his gray head. "Were 
it not a feast day I would surely tell your father!" 

"He has gone to the monastery," replied Givi 
bravely. 

"It is a great night in the monastery, this 
night," interrupted Aleko. "My uncle took me 



80 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

there last Easter. At midnight a rocket is touched 
off and they strike the great bell!" 

"From where do they send the rocket ?" inquired 
Gogi, who had not seen the monastery. 

"They send it from the wall where the old iron 
cannon stands," explained Aleko. "Shaliko 
knows," he added. 

"Aye, I know," agreed Shaliko, "for do I not 
await that same rocket as a signal for my own 
bells?" 

"Have you seen the iron cannon?" asked Givi. 

"I have that," said the old bell ringer proudly. 
"I have seen others, too, and fired from them." 

"Were you in the war?" 

"Of course," said Shaliko. "Tell me, pray, 
where I have not been." 

"The war is terrible, is it not, Shaliko?" 

"There is nothing terrible," denied the old man. 
"You get the order *fire' and you fire." 

"But what if one were to be killed?" said Gogi 
with a little shiver. 

"Who?" demanded Shaliko. 

"You, perhaps," answered Gogi. 

"Those are foolish words," said Shaliko, 
scowling. "Who could kill me?" 

"The enemy," guessed Gogi. 



EASTER 81 

"Bring on your enemy," shouted old Shaliko, 
looking very fierce. "Their arms are too short. 
Bring them on — I'll break all their bones!" 

On receiving no answer to this challenge, he 
fell silent for a while and then, as though ashamed 
of shouting so on a holy day, he said firmly: 

"Our Easter is better than the Easter of any 
people ! In truth it is the feast of feasts and the 
holiday of holidays." 

The boys sat silent and listened. 

"It is a crying shame," he continued, "that some 
of our brothers should believe as they do. It is 
a shame, but it is also funny," and Shaliko 
chuckled in his beard. "It is not right and I fear 
for them in the other world. I speak of the Tchout- 
chki in Siberia. I saw them when I was a soldier. 

"They are a silly folk. To kill a dog is great 
fun for them. A dog is nothing, for they would 
just as soon kill their own father. This they some- 
times do, when their parents grow too old to hunt 
for their own food and skins for clothing. All 
this is because they do not fear their god. They 
fear only (God forgive them) the goblins. They 
even pray to the goblins." 

The boys laughed. 

"That is truth," insisted Shaliko. "^They be- 



82 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

lieve that their god flew away into the sky and 
from him they expect neither good nor evil. I 
forget what they call him, but in our language 
it means, 'The Old One.' " 

"But why do they pray to the goblins?" asked 
Gogi, fearing that the story had ended. 

"They fear them and that is their faith," an- 
swered Shaliko. "What can be done about it? 
Our priest says that the first man was Adam; 
their priests say that ten thousand 'Adams' were 
made from clay — all at one time. They say that 
all these 'Adams' stood for a hundred years on 
a mountain. They stood on the same mountain, 
in fact, from which their god flew away into the 
sky. After a hundred years the god returned and 
gave them life by blowing upon them. And then, 
it is said, there came a great storm or whirlwind 
which whisked all the 'Adams' up into the air 
and dropped them, broad and far, over all the 
earth. Those which fell upon the ground became 
men. Others, which fell into trees and such-like, 
became women. That is their idea of the beginning 
of things!" 

Shaliko paused, shaking his head slowly and 
clucking at the shame of it all. 

"Our holiday is good — ^good for the soul, but 



EASTER 83 

theirs . . .! True, it comes in the spring. In this, 
alone, is it like ours. They become wild. They 
slaughter whole herds of deer and feast and dance 
like savages. They sing also, and their songs would 
draw tears from the cold stone — ^nothing like our 
own beautiful Easter Chant." 

Here the old man glanced toward the window 
just in time to see the last fading sparks left from 
the fiery arc of the falling signal rocket. He leaped 
to his feet, and as his trembling fingers were raised 
in the sign of the cross the solemn stillness was 
broken by the throaty clang of the great bell in 
the distant monastery. Up from the churchyard 
came a medley of laughter and noisy greetings. 

"Christ is arisen," muttered the old bell ringer, 
again and again, crossing himself, while, at the 
same time, he watched the boys struggling to 
start the clapper of the great bell. Each succeed- 
ing swing brought the heavy tongue nearer and 
nearer until it barely touched the thick bronze 
rim of the tocsin. . . . 

The walls trembled. The tin lamp rattled 
against the stones, and the air was split with a 
deafening, mighty note. 

The worshipers filed out of the church with 
bared heads and lighted tapers. The holy pictures 



84 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

were brought out and the banners. The singers 
emerged. The deacons followed, holding tall can- 
dles, and then came the priest with his cross held 
high. With song and prayer the congregation 
began the march around the church, led by the 
old priest. 

Shaliko ceased his mutterings and, casting aside 
his fur hat, began to snatch at the tangle of bell 
ropes. One he would pull with his right hand, 
another with his left. Sometimes he would pull 
with both at once. All the while, one foot was 
placed solidly on the stone flags of the floor and 
the other stamped on one end of a hinged board. 
To the other end were tied the cords from the 
smaller chimes, and as the board moved up and 
down they rang together. Merry tinkles and 
solemn clangs blended and floated out on the soft 
midnight air. 

As he worked Shaliko followed the course of 
the marching throng, and as the procession, hav- 
ing made a complete circle of the church, came 
to a halt before the doors, the old man loosed his 
hold on the bell ropes and signaled to the three 
boys to do the same. Again the tower was silent^ 
excepting, perhaps, the last faint echoes in the 
deep throat of the largest bell. 



EASTER 85 

"Christ is arisen from the dead," came the trem- 
bling accents of the aged priest, and hke an an- 
swer the crowd surged and swayed and a hundred 
tapers twinkled brightly. 

"Christ is arisen," shouted the throng. 

Each man, turning to his neighbor, embraced 
him and kissed him three times and repeated: 
"Christ is arisen." 

"Verily is Christ arisen," came the joyous an- 
swer. 

Hands were waved. Bared heads bowed. Sha- 
liko's heart overflowed with pleasure. He leaned 
gazing down through the window slit, and in a 
low voice followed the singing of the choir; 

"Eternal life with death was bought." 

The crowd hearkened with reverence, and the 
three boys watched down from above. Dawn was 
still many hours distant but to them it seemed 
near, bright, joyous. 

"Greetings, my children, greetings! Christ is 
arisen!" cried the happy old bell ringer. 

As each boy answered with "Verily is he arisen" 
the old man kissed him thrice and gave him a 
loving pinch for good measure. 

"And now, to work again!" shouted Shaliko, 
clapping his hands. "Come again some other day 



86 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

and you shall hear of other strange things and 
places. Perhaps of foreigners or the ships that 
sail on the ocean. But now to work and finish our 
task ! Swing the big bell. Swing it — Swing . ^ . 
Swing . . . Swing!" 




IX 

Keto Visits Batum 



OGI was loading bundles and carpetbags 
onto the bullock cart. The patient water buffaloes 
stood side by side under the heavy wooden yoke, 
their long black horns thrown back to take the 
weight of the cart pole. Their blue gray eyes were 
half closed and they thoughtfully chewed their 
cuds and swept the buzzing flies away with lazy 
swishes of their long tails. 

87 



88 NOAH*S GRANDCHILDREN 

Flat on the floor of the cart sat Keto. As Gogi 
passed up the bundles she stacked them beside 
her. She was dressed in her best brown woolen 
dress and over her head and shoulders was thrown 
her black silk shawl. On her feet that peeped out 
from under her long skirts were a pair of heel- 
less brown toufli which Uncle Kola had brought 
her on his last visit from Tiflis. Keto was going 
on a journey. 

"You are a lucky girl," said Gogi, as he handed 
her the last of the parcels. "You are going to see 
the sea and the iron road with its puffing engines. 
If you watch from the window as you come into 
Batum on the iron road you will see the big ships 
that come from Ferenzi and from Ameriki, Per- 
haps, if you are fortunate, you will even hear 
them blow on their whistles, or dropping their 
great iron hooks that hold them to the bottom 
of the sea when they stop at Batum. I saw all 
these things and more when I visited with the 
natlia on the feast of St. Mary." 

"She will see what she will see," said their 
mother, who had come up as Gogi spoke. "Health 
to our Keto-heart, for when she returns she will 
have much work to do. Your father goes to buy 
the eggs of the silkworms. Silkworms spell work 



KETO VISITS BATUM 89 

for little hands, for with baby Morro to watch, I 
can help but little this year at the silk." 

"I shall do it all," said Keto gladly. "I know 
just how to care for them." 

*'That," replied Nina, "is because I gave you 
each year a few worms for your own. You thought 
it was a game. It was, but it also taught you how 
to keep the worms. It will be the same now; just 
a game, but more worms will make it a bigger 
game." 

"I shall get the food for them," promised Gogi, 
"and we shall play the game together — Keto- 
heart and I." 

"Then you shall go with me to sell the silk 
when it is ready," said Nina. "You shall go with 
me to Tiflis." 

'^Ahha!" shouted Vasso, and put an end to 
plans for the Tiflis trip. "We must go or we shall 
not reach Natonebi in time for the train. The iron 
road does not wait for Gurian farmers and their 
little girls, and I have no wish to spend a night 
in waiting for it." 

''Ahha! Tsadi!" cried Vasso to the dozing buf- 
faloes. The big black beasts came to life, and dig- 
ging their iron-shod feet into the soft earth, moved 



90 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

off at a leisurely pace, dragging the creaking cart 
behind them. 

''Vasha! Vasha! Hurrah! Hurrah!" shouted 
Gogi. 

"A good road to you!" cried Nina. "Do not 
forget the cheese pie from the patilia, Keto-heartI 
And take care not to crush it, for the natlia is 
very fond of my cheese pies!" 

"It is safe in my lap, deda-heart/^ answered 
Keto, and she held the paper-wrapped pie aloft 
in one hand while she waved a farewell with the 
other. 

Vasso whistled shrilly to the buffaloes and now 
and then he struck a laggard with a green switch 
that he used to guide the team. Down, down, 
always down, they traveled from the hills, and 
before nightfall they came to the little village of 
Natonebi, that stood at the side of the iron road. 

Keto was left with the baggage in the tiny wait- 
ing room of the little red brick station while her 
father went to place his cart and team in the 
yard of a kinsman who lived in the village. 

Vasso soon returned and purchased two tickets 
at the little barred window of the station agent's 
office. Keto watched the agent stamp the date 



KETO VISITS BATUM 91 

on them with a great bang and wondered that 
he didn't smash his fingers in the big machine. 

A large gong in the corner of the room began 
to clang. The agent came from his office and, 
going to the corner of the room, pulled a long 
iron bar fitted with bright brass rings from a tall 
red stand. When the bar was out of the rack 
the agent turned a little crank and the gong rang 
again. 

"The train wiU soon arrive," said Keto's father. 
"The gong is a signal from the next station up 
the line to say that it has left there." 

"But what is the iron bar that the man took 
out?" asked Keto. 

"That," said her father, "is a hollow pipe, and 
when the engine driver gets it from the station 
agent at a station he knows that no other train 
can get on the track before him until he reaches 
the next station. The man here could not get the 
pipe out if the agent at the next station had not 
seen that the road was clear and unlocked the 
rack here in the corner by electricity from his own 
station far away. The orders for the conductor 
are put in the hollow of the pipe." 

The train puffed into the station and came to 



92 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

a stop with a shriek of brakes. The station agent 
emerged from his cubbyhole and struck a large 
bell that hung on the station platform. The con- 
ductor took from the agent the hollow pipe and 
gave in return the one he had received at the 
last stop. The agent glanced at his watch and 
struck the bell twice. 

"Hurry," said Vasso to his daughter. "That is 
the second bell!" 

Loaded with knots and bundles, Keto and her 
father climbed into a little four-wheeled coach 
and settled themselves on the hard wooden bench 
in one of its several compartments. Outside, the 
agent gave three strokes to the bell. 

The engine gave a shrill toot of the whistle and 
the train moved. 

For a while the train traveled through deep 
cuts; the mountains crowded close on the right, 
and to the left soft rolling hills swallowed up the 
sinking sun. Before it became quite dark the 
mountains began to drop farther and farther back 
and the rolling hills leveled out into the early 
green of spring wheat and black plowed fields 
that awaited the first warm day to send up the 
fresh shoots of the young cotton and brown beans. 

Night came and still they had not reached their 



KETO VISITS BATUM ^S 

destination. "We shall not see the sea," sighed 
Keto disappointedly. "It is too dark." 

"It will not be too dark to see the sea," her 
father reassured her. "It will be more wonderful 
than at any other time. You will see it by the 
moonlight." 

With a long blast on the whistle the train rushed 
into the black mouth of a short tunnel. Keto, 
frightened by the roaring of the wind and the 
thundering echoes, clung close to her father's 
arm. 

The train rushed out of the tunnel as quickly 
as it had entered it, and everything seemed sud- 
denly and strangely still. "Look!" said Vasso. 
He pointed a finger through the window. "The 
sea!" 

"The sea! The sea!" exclaimed Keto with won- 
der. Shading her eyes with her two hands from 
the lantern that hung above their heads, she 
pressed her nose flat against the window. 

They seemed to be racing over the waves, the 
track was so near the lapping water. 

"But it is not black!" said the astonished Keto. 
"Why is it called the Black Sea? It is silver and 
all the edge is trimmed with lace." 

"It is the moon that makes it silver," explained 



94 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

her father. "And the lace that you see is made 
by the waves that shatter themselves on the rocky 
shore. The Black Sea is not really black; it is 
a beautiful dark blue. When a storm is brewing, 
as often happens on this sea, the blue becomes 
so dark that it appears to be quite black. And that 
is where it gets its name — ^the Black Sea." 

Keto did not have long to admire the silvery 
sea. The train roared into the midst of a per- 
fect forest of huge iron tanks. "What are these 
great round buildings?" inquired Keto, who had 
not ceased gazing through the window into the 
murky night. 

"Those," said Vasso, "are the reservoirs that 
store the nafti which we burn in our oil lamps. 
It is brought to Batum all the way through our 
Caucasus Mountains by great iron pipes, and 
here it is pumped into the ocean ships that carry 
it to far places where it is not found." 

"Is it found in our mountains?" asked Keto. 

"It is found in many places in our land," said 
Vasso proudly. "Most of it comes from Baku on 
the Caspian Sea. Hundreds of years before man 
had learned to use it in lamps and motors it used 
to bubble up through the cracks in the dry desert 
earth in those parts, and in many places it burned 



KETO VISITS BATUM 95 

and smoked for ages. The ancient people came 
from thousands of miles to kneel and worship at 
these Fountains of Fire ; they counted them holy 
and often made human sacrifices on great stone 
altars, the stones of which still remain. Of this 
you have read in your book of Arabian Nights." 

Vasso arose as he uttered the last words, for 
the train was drawing into the station of Batum. 
He lifted the baggage down from the overhead 
racks, and dividing the burdens with Keto, he led 
the way out onto the brilliantly lighted platform 
of the railway station. 

"It was a long ride," said Keto, *'but I enjoyed 
it." 

"Not so long a ride," said her father, "as when 
I was a boy. There was no iron road in those days 
and Batum was four * journeys' from our home 
at Ozerget with the fastest oxen." 

No sooner had they clambered from their car 
than they were surrounded by a chattering, scram- 
bling mob of ragged barefoot men with queer 
three-cornered pillows of woven straw strapped 
to their backs by loops that encircled their stoop- 
ing shoulders. Each one tried his best to grab 
some part of their baggage, while all the time 
they swore and struck at one another. 



96 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Keto was quite frightened, but Vasso laughed 
loudly and, giving all their parcels to one of 
the largest, drove the others away with a sharp 
word and a sweep of his long arm. "Do not be 
frightened, Keto-heart," said he, still laughing. 
"That is their queer way. They seem about to 
cut each other's throats, but they are really the 
best of friends and comrades." 

When the man, who was a Kurd porter, leaned 
forward, the straw pillow fitted into the small 
of his back and formed a broad flat surface. He 
growled something in his own language and sev- 
eral of the others came near and stacked the 
bundles on his bent back. As Vasso had said, they 
were not angry at all. They even gave their lucky 
mate a few joking digs in the ribs as they loaded 
him and a friendly shove at the back of his bob- 
bing head as he moved off in the wake of Vasso 
and Keto. 

To tired little Keto it seemed that they walked 
for miles. The hard round cobbles of the stone- 
paved streets bruised the soles of her feet, which 
were more accustomed to the naked earth. Her 
legs ached and throbbed from walking on the 
level flatness so unlike the hilly slopes of her 
home. She had almost made up her mind to beg 



KETO VISITS BATUM 97 

her father for a short rest when Vasso halted at 
the iron-shuttered door of one of the tall brick and 
red stone houses that lined the streets. The Kurd 
porter also halted and stood, his pile of bundles 
teetering on his pillowed back. Vasso pulled the 
bell rope that hung beside the door. A muffled 
jangle of a bell in the depths of the yard brought 
footsteps hurrying across the cobbles of the walled 
courtyard. 

"Who is there?" asked a voice beyond the 
locked door. 

"Tchwenia, your own," answered Vasso, and 
with the scrape of drawn bolts the door was 
opened. 

"Victory to thee and thine, Vasso," mumbled 
the aged Kurd watchman, who recognized the 
caller. "The master expects thee." And taking 
a share of the baggage from the porter, the watch- 
man left the remainder for a second trip, and 
closing the door with a great rattle, he led the 
guests across the dim square of the silent yard. 

They followed the old Kurd through a short 
passage and, entering a door which he threw open, 
they saw the natlia hastening to meet them. 

"With bread and salt, Vasso! With bread and 



98 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

salt, Keto!" he greeted them. "Welcome to my 
roof!" 

When the men had embraced Keto dropped 
a stiff little curtsey and the natlia kissed her cheek. 
Nor were these all the greetings. Keto heard a 
familiar voice at her shoulder: * 'Health, Keto- 
heart!" 

"You, Vanno?" she exclaimed in surprise. 

"I, in truth," smilingly answered the black- 
smith's stalwart son. 

"What brings you here?" begged the still as- 
tonished Keto. 

"Have you not heard?" It was Vanno's turn 
to be surprised. "Your natlia has given me work 
in his station. I am learning to run the great en- 
gines that pump the naft from the tanks on the 
shore into the waiting ocean ships." 

"And have you seen the ships?" demanded 
Keto. 

"I have seen many ships," declared Vanno 
proudly. "And to-morrow you shall see them also. 
The natlia has given me a holiday so that I may 
go with you and show to you the wonders of 
Batum." 

Keto danced with dehght. 

"But now to bed," warned the natlia when she 



KETO VISITS BATUM 99 

would have thanked him. "To-morrow will be 
a long day and you have traveled far." 

Here it was Keto remembered the parcel for 
the natlia, and placing it in his hand she again 
curtsied and said, "Deda sends her greetings and 
wishes you long life." 

The natlia lifted the package to his nose. 
"Mmmmm!" said he, smacking his lips. "Cheese 
pie ! Health to the hands that made it and to those 
which have brought it! To-morrow you will see 
nothing half as good." 




X 

Shops in Batum 



i^EE!" Vanno pointed with a finger through 
the open door of one of the Httle shacks that leaned 
one against another on either side of a dark 
crooked alley near the waterfront of Batum. 

The pair paused, and Keto peered into the dim- 
ness of the shop. The floor was of dirt ; the corners 
were littered with piles of carved round sticks; 
the naked rafters of the roof were loaded with 
stacks of seasoning planks and logs. The three 
windowless walls were hung thickly with dozens 
of tiny cradles, some finished, some unpainted, 

100 



SHOPS IN BATUM 101 

and still others that waited the addition of rockers 
or bottoms or the rattling wooden rings. 

"The cradle maker!" said Keto. 

In the middle of the floor, where the light from 
the open door fell, a httle old man sat hunched on 
a low stool that stood three or four inches from 
the floor. Before him a long thin stick was held 
by the ends on the points of two nails driven into 
two blocks of wood. As Keto watched, the old 
man drew a long wooden bow like an archer's 
across the centered stick. The leather thong of the 
bow was looped around the stick, and as it was 
drawn along it caused the stick to whirl rapidly. 
At the same time the Maker of Cradles touched 
the whirling stick with a sharp chisel which he 
held between the toes of his right foot and guided 
with his right hand. 

"My, how the chips fly!" said Keto. In no time 
the old man had made his singing chisel ride from 
one end of the stick to the other and, shoving some- 
thing with his free foot, the blocks fell apart and 
he held in his hand a delicately carved round all 
ready to be glued into the frame of a cradle. He 
cast it onto one of the piles in the corner, and 
^s he placed another stick in his crude lathe he 



102 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

glanced up to see whose shadow it was that fell 
across his sunlit floor. 

"Greetings," said Keto politely, as she caught 
his glance, but the old man did not answer with 
words. He merely nodded gravely and went about 
his work. 

''He does not understand our tongues," ex- 
plained Vanno. ''The makers of cradles and black- 
smiths and coppersmiths and fishermen are 
Greeks and speak only Turkish and their own 
language." 

As Vanno and his charge wound in and out 
along the winding, narrow streets they passed 
the clanging shops of the coppersmith and tarried 
to see the workmen pound and beat the thin sheets 
of copper into bowls and pots and trays. Some- 
times they would stop working for a while on 
their sharp-pointed anvils and heat the copper 
sheets until they glowed, and then dip them sput- 
tering and sizzling into a huge earthen jar of 
cold water before they began to beat them again. 

"That is to make the copper soft," said Vanno, 
in answer to Keto's inquiry. "When copper is 
pounded it becomes hard and brittle and would 



SHOPS IN BATUM 103 

soon split and break if it were not softened in 
this way." 

"Oh! There is a fire," cried Keto. "A shop is 
burning!" She pointed out to Vanno a door some 
few paces farther on from which great billows 
of white smoke were pouring. 

"No, no," laughed the smith's son. "Come. You 
will soon see what causes the smoke." 

In the shop was a great forge with a huge bel- 
lows slung to the ceiling like that of Vanno's 
father at Ozerget. A sooty-faced boy was pump- 
ing at the fire, over which another sooty workman 
was bending. In his hand the workman held a red 
copper bowl which he was heating. As the copper 
turned black with the heat he threw into the bowl 
a little pinch of white powder. White, blinding 
smoke that brought tears to Keto's curious eyes 
billowed from the bowl and the man, casting into 
it a piece of something that rang like metal, began 
to rub the bowl furiously with a handful of shred- 
ded bark. 

As he rubbed, the bowl, which had been first 
red, then black, became bright with a shining 
silver luster. He held it up to the light and gave 
it several careful dabs before he hung it on a 



104 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

nail before the door of the dirty, smoke-stained 
shop. 

"He has turned the copper into silver/' cried 
Keto in surprise. But Vanno explained to her 
that it was only a thin covering of melted tin that 
the man had put on the copper to keep it easy to 
clean. 

"I see the sea," exclaimed Keto, as she and 
Vanno came from a last twist of the winding 
street. "Take me to the sea, Vanno ! Take me to 
the sea! Can we see the ships?" 

"Not here," said Vanno. "Only the small fish- 
ing boats and the tiny sailing ships from the 
Turkish coast are anchored at the shore. It is 
not very deep here and the big ships go farther 
down where their deep bottoms will not take all 
the water." 

The little boats were anchored row on row along 
the pebbly shore. The larger ones bobbed up and 
down with the swell of the water, but the smaller 
ones had been pulled up high and dry on the beach. 
From some, barefooted sailors were unloading 
their catch of fish, and others, already unloaded, 
were draped with the steaming folds of dirty 
patched canvas sails that were stretched to dry 
in the warm sun. Everywhere was the smell of 



SHOPS IN BATUM 105 

fish. Great stretches of nets were hung from racks 
made by tying together three oars, and fishermen 
were busily knotting and weaving new meshes in 
them to mend the tears made during the night's 
fishing. Or perhaps they were adding a few more 
leaden balls to weight the lower edges and slabs 
of cork to float the tops. 

Women and men in every sort of garb stood 
haggling with the fish venders or digging with 
searching fingers among the smelly heaps of fish. 
Vanno pointed them all out to Keto: Greek 
women in woolen dresses with aprons belted about 
them; with their hair in two plaits down their 
backs, a knitted shawl knotted about their hips, 
and black kerchiefs about their heads. Turkish 
women were there, shrouded from head to feet 
in flowing, dark blue tchadars dotted with white. 

The most noticeable of all were the Kurdish 
women in their embroidered wool dresses and silk 
vests and bright kerchiefs bound to their black 
heads by wire circlets with dozens of little tinkling 
gold coins. Some carried babies in big three-cor- 
nered scarfs slung at their backs, and each was 
belted with a broad leather band from which hung 
long streamers twisted from many-colored yarn, 



106 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

tipped with tassels that swung to and fro as the 
wearer padded from table to table seeking alms 
in the way of rejected pieces of fish. 

Along the waterfront came a Persian merchant 
in heelless slippers, long black satin coat, and tall, 
brimless black hat. He was followed by a porter 
carrying the goods which he had, perhaps, bought 
for his shop somewhere back in the dizzy puzzle 
of narrow dark streets. 

Occasionally a wagon clattered by loaded with 
crates from one of the ocean boats or piled high 
with bales of wool or licorice root for some far- 
away port. All the shops that faced the sea seemed 
to Keto to be coffeehouses. Groups of men sat 
at low tables drinking tiny thimble cups of black, 
sweet Turkish coffee or swallowing huge lumps 
of gummy rag at luhum, Turkish delight. Some 
played at dominoes or backgammon, slapping the 
hard palmwood disks down with sharp cracks on 
the pearl-inlaid boards. 

"Is it a feast day," asked Keto, "that everyone 
seems to be playing at nardi or dominoes?" 

"No," said her companion, "here in the city 
people play at games at other times than feast 
days. Here it is not just a game. While they play 
at nardi they are busy buying and selling. It is in 



SHOPS IN BATUM 107 

this way that many merchants of Batum do their 
business." 

^'Bashka-ke-le! Bashka-ke-le/^ shouted a loud 
voice near by. Keto turned and saw a ragged man 
who looked very much like the Kurd porters. He 
did not have the porters' straw pillow, though. 
Instead, he balanced on his bare head a round 
wooden platter filled with a heap of red-brown 
balls. 

*'What does he shout?" asked Keto. 

"He is shouting that he has 'hot heads' for 
sale," said Vanno. "They are sheep heads which 
some baker has let him roast in his oven while he 
was heating it to bake his bread. They are very 
good to eat." 

"Ugh!" shrugged Keto. "That is no food for 
Gurians. Let those who understand his language 
eat them." 

Vanno chuckled. "He is not shouting in his own 
language. He is talking in Turkish, for in this 
town of many peoples and many languages 
Turkish is the language which everyone under- 
stands. It is the language of the bazaar." 

"Look out," shouted Keto suddenly, "you will 
step on the traders' carpets." 

Vanno glanced down. The rough cobbles of the 



108 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

street into which they had turned were covered 
from side to side with bright Persian carpets and 
rugs. "He has placed them there to be walked 
upon," Vanno reassured her. "In the sun and 
under the feet of passing people their colors, 
which are too bright when they are first woven, 
will fade and they will be far more valuable. Be- 
sides, foreigners, the Inglisi and Americani, do 
not like new rugs, and the rugs will fetch a much 
greater price when they look older." 

"The Inglisi have queer customs," agreed Keto 
as she stepped gingerly across the beautiful car- 
pets, for she was not quite sure that Vanno was 
right. 

Vanno looked up at the sun. "It is time to go 
home, Keto-heart," said he. "Your father will be 
waiting at the station. Let us hurry." 

^'Vai-mir mourned Keto sadly. "We have not 
seen half of all the strange things. Vai-mi, that I 
should have slept so late this morning when I 
might have been walking with you." 

"Do not mind," Vanno comforted her. "Are 
you not going to Tiflis with de Ja-Nina when she 
takes the silk to the bazaar ? You must save your 
eyes, too, for the trip home. You can watch the 
sea from the train." 



SHOPS IN BATUM 109 

At Natonebi, Keto and her father left the train 
and sought the house where Vasso had left the 
cart and buffaloes. It was dusk; Keto was very 
tired and spoke little. In her hand she clutched a 
tiny round cardboard box like a pill box. She was 
very careful of it. In the box were the eggs for 
the silkworms — the silkworms that she and Gogi 
were to care for. 

As their creaking cart left the village and 
crawled along the winding road that led toward 
the foothills of their mountains they were joined 
by other travelers who had returned by the same 
train and were also wending their way home. 

Years ago this flat stretch of land, so different 
from the mountain slopes on which the Gurians 
made their homes, had seemed to them strange and 
awful. It was thought to be inhabited by Goblins 
of the Low Places. Travelers when crossing it 
always sang to keep themselves from evil. People 
now were no longer afraid of the goblins, but the 
singing had become a habit and custom. 

Some one of the travelers far ahead began a 
song in a high piping treble. 

"Hidelly, hidelly, hidelly-ho 
DeUy, ho-delly, ho-delly-ho." 



no NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Others joined in the wordless song with varia- 
tions in bass and tenor. Keto pillowed her tired 
head on a bundle and dozed. Vasso rode the pole 
of his jouncing cart and sang with the leader: 

"Ho-a, ho-a, Hooooooooo " 




XI 



Tending the Silkworms 



K 



ETO leaned over a little wooden box. The box 
was no larger than those in which shoes are bought 
and it was covered with a sheet of thick paper 
punctured with dozens of pin pricks. At her side 
stood Gogi. 

"See!" said Keto to her brother. "They are 
hatching! The worms are coming out of their tiny 
gray shells!" 

Five or six of the very smallest black worms 
were crawling over the white surface of the paper. 
As the brother and sister watched, several others 
poked their weaving black heads through the pin 
pricks and wriggled out into the light of day. 

"Some of the holes are too large," said Gogi. 

Ill 



112 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"There is a worm with a piece of his shell stick- 
ing to his back. Unless the holes are small enough 
to scrape the fragments of shell from the new- 
born worms, the sharp edges will soon cut into 
their growing sides and kill them." 

Keto moistened a little patch of paper and 
stuck it over the hole that was too big. "That will 
fix it," said she. "Can you see another?" 

As the worms collected on the top of their nest 
Keto carefully swept them off with a large turkey 
feather onto other pieces of paper that each held 
a few tender mulberry leaves. 

"Have you enough leaves?" asked Gogi, who 
had promised to gather the feed for the worms. 

"More than enough," answered Keto. "They 
are far too tiny to eat much yet. Wait a week and 
they will keep you busy." 

Keto was right. About forty thousand worms 
came from the little box that Vasso bought in 
Batum from a Greek trader. The first week they 
ate but six pounds or so of their mulberry-leaf 
diet, and then they fell asleep. 

"Sh!" warned Keto, as Gogi came into the 
room where the silkworms lay. "They are asleep. 
Do not bring any more leaves, for they will not 
be fresh when the worms awake. When they shed 



TENDING THE SILKWORMS 113 

their skins and come to life they must have plenty 
of food, but it must be fresh and juicy." 

Gogi threw the leaves out of the open window 
and said: "Father and I have finished the racks. 
Shall I bring them in?" 

''Bring them now," said his sister. "The worms 
have grown larger and will not fall through the 
cracks now. They need more room, too." 

Gogi brought the racks which he and Vasso 
had prepared for the worms to fed upon. They 
looked like miniature rafts made of cornstalks 
tied together with split osier fibers. 

"Look," said Keto, as she and Gogi trans- 
ferred the awakened worms. "They are much 
larger. The humps are beginning to grow on their 
backs and the sharp black spikes in their tails 
are longer." 

"They are turning from black to gray," said 
Gogi, as he carefully picked up a handful of mul- 
berry leaves covered with greedy gnawing worms 
and placed it on a new rack. 

"They will be even grayer when they change 
this skin and get their third one," said Keto. "The 
bigger they get the grayer they become and the 
more they eat." 

"Eat, my little ones, eat," urged Keto, and the 



114 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

worms ate greedily. They grew and grew. Dur- 
ing the next three weeks the forty thousand worms 
that were hatched from a tiny pinch of eggs ate 
over half a ton of leaves. Three times more they 
slept and changed their skins, and their racks at 
the end of the month filled the whole sunny south 
room from floor to ceiling. For as they grew more 
racks were added to give them space and a place 
big enough to hold the heaps of leaves that they 
devoured. 

The first week they had eaten but a handful of 
food, but before they had lived a full month the 
entire family was busy gathering leafy branches 
from the mulberry trees to feed them. Through- 
out the whole day Nina and Keto and Vasso and 
Gogi labored to feed their greedy mouths and 
clear away the rubbish and occasional dead worms 
that fell through the cracks in the cornstalk 
frames. Even baby Morro seemed to understand 
that it was very important, for she would lie hour 
after hour watching the others at their work. She 
loved, too, to be given a green branch from the 
sheaves of worm feed, from which she could tear 
the soft leaves one by one and strew them about 
her crib. 

The thousands of gnawing jaws filled the room 



TENDING THE SILKWORMS 115 

with a continued rustle like the wind through tree 
tops. Piles of leaves disappeared like wisps of 
straw in a fire. Toward the end of the month 
Vasso arose several times during the night to feed 
the troublesome creatures. 

"They have stopped eating!" announced Keto 
one day when all were completely tired out with 
caring for the hungry worms. *'See! They are 
about to begin spinning their cocoons!" 

The family gathered about one of the lower 
racks and watched the worms on it. A few stiU 
continued to eat, but most of them stood in one 
spot and waved their heads about in the air as 
though they were smelling the wind. On the leaf- 
less twigs could be seen here and there a thin, 
shining floss. The silk was ready for spinning. 

"It is good," said Gogi with relief, "that they 
do not grow as large as snakes or aU the forest 
would not hold enough to feed them." 

"Do not think that the work is all done," warned 
his sister. "We must watch closely now or they 
will spin their cocoons so near to one another that 
they will stick together and be ruined. We must 
take good care that each worm has all the room 
he needs." 

In a few days every worm had disappeared, 



116 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

wrapped in a bright cocoon that he had woven 
about himself. When Nina was certain that every 
worm had finished his cocoon she called Keto and 
Gogi and together they collected all the little 
silky bags and emptied them into a huge pot of 
hot water. This was to kill the worm inside before 
it had time to turn into a moth and ruin the cocoon 
by bursting through its silken walls. 

Then came days of work — the unraveling of 
the almost invisible web from the cocoons and 
twisting four or five together to make thread. 
When the thread was twisted from the floss it 
yvsis rewound on a distaff and spun again. This 
time, as the long wooden top spun by a twist of 
Nina's strong fingers twisted the thread tighter 
and tighter, it was scraped up and down with a 
V-shaped piece of bamboo which shaved all the 
tiny knots and lumps from the floss. These lumps 
and knots were really blobs of the glue that held 
the double thread of the cocoon together, for 
a silkworm spins two threads at once and sticks 
them side by side to form a flat, tapelike thread. 

"We are being rewarded for our hard work," 
said Nina, pointing to the fat skeins of golden 
silk that hung on the wall. "We shall have twice 
as much this year." 



TENDING THE SILKWORMS 117 

"It was all my fault last year," said Gogi con- 
tritely. "If I had but watched a little closer the 
ants would not have eaten up the young worms 
as they slept." 

"Not altogether your fault," his mother con- 
soled him. "Father Vasso picked too many leaves 
from the mulberry trees that bear fruit. The 
leaves of those which do not bear fruit are not so 
sweet and do not, therefore, attract the ants." 

"This year," boasted Keto, "I took good care 
that the ants were helpless. I did as Granny told 
me — I put little rings of red pepper dust around 
aU the poles that hold the racks. The wicked 
ants could not pass through the hot red pepper 
to get the sleeping worms." 

"You have both been a great help," agreed her 
mother. "And you shall both have the reward 
which I promised. You shall go with me to Tiflis 
when the silk is taken to the bazaar." 




XII 

The Tale of Ashik-Kerib 



U 



NCLE KOLA sat with his wool-stockinged 
feet thrust ahnost into the glowing embers of the 
open fire on the floor of the little log kitchen down 
by the brook and thrummed the strings of his 
guitar. He had just finished the singing of a song. 

"Long life to thee, Kola, and thanks," said 
Vasso, who had followed the singing closely from 
beginning to end. 

Keto and Gogi, who had also listened intently, 
thanked him and Gogi asked, "How is this song 
called. Uncle Kola?" 

"It is called," replied Uncle Kola, "the song 
of Ashik-Kerib. It is a song well known and much 

118 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 119 

loved in Tiflis, for in Tiflis live many of our 
people who are Moslems and Ashik-Kerib was 
a Moslem." 

*'Who was Ashik-Kerib?" asked Keto. 

"Ashik-Kerib was a poor man who became rich 
and a sad man who was made happy," explained 
Uncle Kola. "It is a long story which I learned 
from the Tellers of Tales in the coffeehouses and 
on the bazaars of Tiflis." 

"Please tell us the tale of Ashik-Kerib," begged 
Keto. 

"Oh, please do, Uncle Kola!" Gogi added his 
plea. 

''Khargi! It is well!" agreed Uncle Kola. "But 
it is a long tale. Take care that you do not fall 
asleep before it is finished." 

Uncle Kola tore a small square of paper from 
a large sheet which he carried in the pocket of 
his tunic and rolled a long, funnel-shaped ciga- 
rette from a pinch of Vasso's strong tobacco. To 
the accompaniment of soft chords on his guitar, 
Uncle Kola told the tale of Ashik-Kerib, pausing 
now and then to puff at the cigarette, which he al- 
lowed to hang on his lower lip and waggle up and 
down as he talked or sang. 



120 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

The Tale of Ashik-Kerib 

In the ancient city of Tiflis, many, many years 
ago, there lived a wealthy Moslem. Allah had en- 
dowed him with much gold, but dearer to him 
than all his gold was his one daughter, Magul- 
Mageri. The stars in the heavens are beautiful, 
but beyond the stars are the angels. And as the 
angels are more beautiful than the stars, so was 
Magul-Mageri more beautiful than all the other 
maidens of Tiflis. In Tiflis there also lived a poor 
youth called Ashik-Kerib. The Prophet had given 
him nothing but a good heart and the gift of song. 
Playing on the sweet strings of his saaza and sing- 
ing the praises of the ancient heroes of his native 
land, he wandered about wherever there was a 
wedding or feast and assisted the rich and fortu- 
nate in making merry. He first saw Magul- 
Mageri at one of these feasts, and they fell deeply 
in love with one another at first sight. But as poor 
Ashik-Kerib had little hope of ever winning her 
hand he became sad as the winter skies. 

One day, as Ashik-Kerib lay sleeping in the 
shade of a vineyard, Magul-Mageri passed In the 
company of some of her maidens, and one of them 
saw the slumbering asMh (Ashik means min- 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 121 

strel) . The friend fell behind the other girls and, 
addressing the sleeper, sang: "Why do you doze, 
foolish one, in the shade of the vineyard? Your 
gazelle is passing by!" Ashik-Kerib awoke and 
the girl darted away like a swift bird. Magul- 
Mageri heard the song and began to upbraid her 
friend. 

"If you only knew to whom I sang," answered 
the girl, "you would not be angry with me. It 
was your own Ashik-Kerib." 

"Take me to him!" demanded her mistress, and 
when she saw the sorrowful face of Ashik-Kerib 
Magul-Mageri began to comfort him. 

"How shall I not sorrow," said he, "when I 
love you so much and know that you can never 
be my wife?" 

"Ask my hand of my father," said she. "He will 
celebrate our wedding with his own money and 
will give me a dowry that will be enough to keep 
us in comfort the remainder of our lives." 

"No, dear Magul-Mageri," refused Ashik- 
Kerib, "I shall not do that. But I shall make a 
vow. I shall wander over the earth for seven 
years, and by the end of that time I shall either 
have wealth or I shall be dead. If you are pleased 



122 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

with this plan we will be married at the end of 
the seven years if I return." 

Poor Magul-Mageri could do nothing but 
agree, but she added that if he did not return at 
the end of seven years she would become the wife 
of Kurshud-Bey who had also loved her for many 
years. 

Ashik-Kerib received his mother's blessing and, 
kissing his little sister, he slung his pack over one 
shoulder and left the city of Tiflis with the staff 
of a traveler in his hand. Before he had gone far 
he was overtaken by a galloping horseman who 
greeted him. It was Kurshud-Bey. 

"A fair journey," said he. "Whither you wan- 
der, traveler, I am your friend!" 

Ashik was little pleased with his friend but there 
was nothing that he could do. Long they traveled 
together until they came to a deep river that had 
neither bridge nor ford. "Swim ahead," said the 
Bey to Ashik, "and I shall follow behind on my 
horse." 

Ashik took off his outer garments and swam 
across the water. As he stepped onto the farther 
shore he turned to see how his companion fared. 
Oh, woe! Oh, Mighty Allah! The wicked Bey had 
stolen his clothing and was well on his way back 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 123 

to Tiflis. Naught was to be seen but a long snaky 
cloud of dust that showed the path he had taken 
across the sandy desert. 

When he returned to Tiflis the wicked Bey 
went to the aged mother of Ashik-Kerib and 
showed her the clothing of her son. "Your son 
drowned in the raging river," said he, "and I 
have brought you his garments." 

The sorrowing mother fell weeping on the 
clothes of her lost child and when her grief was 
a little less she took them to Magul-Mageri and, 
showing them to the rich Moslem's daughter, said, 
"My son is dead; you are free from your promise. 
See! Kurshud-Bey has brought back his gar- 
ments." 

But Magul-Mageri only smiled and shook her 
beautiful head, "Do not believe him," she said. 
"It is only some trick of wicked Kurshud-Bey. 
Until the seven years have passed no man shall 
be my husband." And taking down her silver- 
stringed saaza from the wall she began to play 
upon it and to sing the favorite song of her be- 
loved Ashik-Kerib. 

Meanwhile the traveler, barefooted and naked, 
had come to a little village. The kind inhabitants 
fed and clothed him, and he sang wonderful songs 



lU NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

to them in return. In this manner he wandered 
from village to village and from city to city until 
his fame was carried all about. At last he came 
to the city of Kalif . As was his custom he went 
into a coffeehouse and, asking for a saaza^ he sat 
down and began to play. 

The ruler of Kalif at that time was a great lover 
of music and singing. Many minstrels were 
brought to him by his men, but none of them 
pleased him. His agents were exhausted with 
running about the city seeking for singers, but it 
so happened that they passed the coffeehouse 
where Ashik was resting and heard his wonderful 
voice. 

"Come with us," said they, "to the pasha, or 
you shall lose your head." 

"I am a free man," Ashik answered them. "I 
come from the city of Tiflis and I go whither I 
desire. I sing only as I wish and your pasha is 
no master of mine." 

The pasha's agents would not listen to him and 
despite his protests they bound him and dragged 
him before their ruler. 

"Sing!" commanded the pasha. 

Poor Ashik-Kerib sang, and in his song he 
told of his love for the beautiful Magul-Mageri. 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 125 

His singing so pleased the pasha that the great 
man besought him to remain with him in KaHf . 

The pasha made him rich gifts of fine clothing 
and money. Ashik began to live happily and be- 
came very rich. Whether he forgot his beloved 
Magul-Mageri or not it is hard to say, but the 
last year of the seven drew swiftly to an end, 
and he still made no preparations for returning 
to Tiflis. 

The beautiful Magul-Mageri became very sad 
as the time passed and there was no sign of her 
lover. She went to a merchant who was about to 
leave Tiflis with his caravan of goods and a band 
of slaves and, giving him a silver plate, said, "In 
every city to which you come place this plate 
among your goods so that it may be easily seen 
and send out criers to say that any man who is 
able to prove that the plate is his may have it and 
likewise its weight in pure gold." 

The trader set out and in every city and village 
to which he came he did as Magul-Mageri had 
ordered him. He had sold almost all of his goods 
and the last city to which he came was Kalif . Here, 
as in other cities, he sent criers out to tell of the 
silver plate and Ashik-Kerib, hearing their shouts 
on the streets, rushed to the place where the trader 



ne NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

had halted his caravan and, clutching the plate 
in his arms, shouted, "It is mine!" 

"Surely it is thine," said the trader, who had 
immediately recognized him as Ashik-Kerib. "But 
Magul-Mageri bade me tell thee that the seven 
years are drawing swiftly to their end and that 
if you do not hasten back to Tiflis before the last 
day she will become the bride of another." 

Poor Ashik tore his beard with despair; only 
three days remained to make the long trip to 
Tiflis. He leaped on his horse, however, and tak- 
ing with him a huge sack of gold, sped away on 
the homeward journey. He did not spare his 
horse and at last, as he galloped along the slopes 
of the mountain of Arzinian, the poor beast fell 
dead. How now could Ashik travel? It was a two- 
months journey from Arzinian to Tiflis, and to 
him there was left but two days. 

Ashik prayed to Almighty Allah, "Help me, 
O Allah, for there is no power on earth that 
can!" 

As he spoke, a man mounted on a snow-white 
horse appeared at his side. "What do you wish, 
young man?" he inquired. 

"I wish to die, only," wept the disheartened 
Ashik 




"/ wish to reach Ezeroum before nightfall" said AshiL 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 127 

"I can soon arrange that matter for you," said 
the horseman. "Follow me." 

"How may I follow thee?" wept Ashik. "I am 
weighted down with this sack and you are on your 
horse, which is as swift as the wind." 

"True!" agreed the man. "Hang your sack on 
the back of my saddle and follow me." 

Ashik-Kerib ran as fast as he was able, but 
he could not keep apace with the horseman. 

"Why do you fall behind?" shouted the stran- 
ger, angrily. 

"How shaU I not fall behind?" wept Ashik. "I 
am very tired and you are on your horse which is 
as swift as a thought." 

"True," agreed the man. "Climb onto the sad- 
dle behind me and tell me truly where you wish 
to go." 

"I wish to reach Erzeroum before nightfall," 
said Ashik. 

"Close your eyes," commanded the man, and 
in another moment, "open them!" 

Ashik looked about him. They were in Erz- 
eroum! "Pardon me, master," he cried. "I was 
mistaken. I wish to be in Kars." 

"Did I not warn you to tell me the truth?" said 
the stranger with an angry shake of his white- 



us NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

turbaned head. *' Close your eyes again. Now, 
open them!" 

The second time when Ashhk opened his 
eyes he saw all about him the tall spires of Kars. 
He could scarcely believe that it was true. He 
fell on his face before the stranger and wept, 
**Pardon, master! I am thrice guilty! You know, 
yourself, that if a man starts the day with a lie 
he must lie the whole day through. It was to 
Tiflis that your servant wished to go." 

"Shame, faithless one!" cried the man. "Close 
your eyes once more. And open them!" 

Ashik leaped with joy. He stood at the gates 
of Tiflis. "Your servant thanks you!" said he 
to the white-turbaned horseman. "But grant me, 
I pray, one more wish. It is a two-months jour- 
ney from Arzinian to Tiflis ; no man will believe 
me when I say that I came in one day. Give me 
some proof of this miracle." 

"Stoop," said the man, "and take from the 
hoof of my horse a clod of dirt. If your words 
are not believed demand that a person be brought 
to you which has been blind for seven years. Rub 
his blind eyes with the dirt and he shall see." 

Ashik stooped and took a clod of dirt, and 
when he arose the man and his white horse were 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 129 

nowhere to be seen. He knew then that the strange 
horseman was no other than White Georgi whom 
the Moslems call Khaderihaz! 

It was late evening before Ashik found his 
almost-forgotten home. He knocked at the closed 
door with a hand that shook and cried, ^'Deda! 
Deda! Mother! Mother! Open your door! I am 
a traveler, the Lord's guest ! Open in the name of 
your absent son!" 

A feeble voice answered him, "The houses of 
the rich and mighty are open to the traveler. In 
the city there is a marriage feast ; there you will 
be welcomed and may pass the night in merri- 
ment." 

"I have no friends in this city, Deda/^ contin- 
ued Ashik. "I repeat my prayer; for the sake of 
your absent son, take me in!" 

Then spoke his sister, "I shall arise and open 
the door to him." 

"You are a naughty girl," cried the old woman. 
"You are only too glad to welcome young men, for 
you know that it is now seven years that I have 
been blind with weeping for my lost son." 

The daughter did not heed her mother, how- 
ever, and, giving the stranger the usual greetings, 
stood watching him with a strange feeling in her 



130 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

breast. Ashik returned her greetings and, seating 
himself, gazed about the familiar room. On the 
wall, wrapped in its dusty cover, hung his saaza 
— ^his sweet-toned saaza, and turning to his mother 
he asked, "What is this that hangs on your wall?" 

"You are a curious guest," replied the old 
woman. "Is it not enough that we give you a piece 
of bread and a place to rest your tired head and 
Godspeed on the morrow?" 

"I have already called you my mother and this 
maid is my sister," continued Ashik. "And now 
I ask what this is that hangs on your wall." 

"It is a saaza — a saazaf' answered the aged 
woman angrily, for she did not believe him. "It 
is a saaza upon which those who can make music." 

Ashik begged that his sister be allowed to take 
the instrument down and show it to him, but the 
old lady refused to permit it. "Never!" she said 
stubbornly. "That is the saaza of my unfortunate 
son. Seven years it has hung on that wall and no 
living hand shall ever touch its strings." 

Again his sister disobeyed her mother, and tak- 
ing down the dusty saaza, handed it to Ashik. 

"Almighty Allah," said he as he took it, "if 
my wish is to come true let these seven silver 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 131 

strings be tuned as they were when last I hung 
this saaza on yonder wall!" 

He struck the long-silent strings and they 
answered in perfect harmony. He sang, "I ^m 
but a poor harih, a wanderer, but mighty White 
Georgi gave me his aid and though I am poor and 
my song is poor I am thy own lost son, my 
mother!" 

His mother broke into tears and asked, "How 
are you called, son?" 

"I am called," said Ashik, "Reshid, the Simple- 
souled." 

"You have broken my heart with your song, 
Reshid," said the old woman. "Last night I 
dreamed that I saw the hair of my old head white 
as snow, but it is now seven years since I wept my 
sight away for my lost son. Tell me, you who 
have his voice, when shall my son return?" 

Twice she repeated the questions with tears 
in her blind eyes, but she would not believe Ashik 
when he declared that he was her long-lost son. 
"Let me take the saaza, D^<Za-heart," begged 
he. "I shall visit the marriage feast which is 
near by and sing to them. All the money which 
falls to my share I shall give to you." 

At first the old woman would not hear of the 



13^ NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

saaza being taken from beneath her roof, but 
when he promised to give her all his baggage if 
he harmed but one string of the precious instru- 
ment she consented. She had felt the heavy sack 
and knew it to be filled with gold. 

His sister accompanied him to the feast and 
stood at the open door to see what would happen. 
It was the house of Magul-Mageri and on this 
night she was to become the bride of Kurshud- 
Bey. Magul-Mageri sat in a corner with her 
maidens. She was wrapped from head to foot in 
a rich cJiadra, and under its folds she held in one 
hand a sharp knife and in the other a cup of 
poison. She had resolved that she would rather 
die than become the bride of anyone other than 
her beloved Ashik. 

"Welcome, singer!" said Kurshud-Bey to 
Ashik when he saw him standing with his saaza 
beneath his arm. "Welcome, for we are feasting. 
Play a tune and sing a song and I shall give you 
a handful of silver." 

When the Bey asked his name Ashik answered, 
''Tchhorra-vitsis, that is, Soon-to-be-known." 

"That is a queer name," laughed the merry 
Bey. "I have never heard its like before, But a 
name is a name — ^play and sing to us I" 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 133 

Ashik struck a chord and sang, "I drank sweet 
wine in the city of Kahf , but Allah gave me wings 
and I flew to Tiflis in three days." 

Kurshud-Bey had a brother who was a little 
foolish, and when he heard these words he leaped 
to his feet and, drawing his sword, would have 
cut off the singer's head, saying, ''Why do you 
tell us falsehoods — ^that you flew from Kalif in 
three days?" 

"Why would you kill me ?" asked Ashik. "Sing- 
ers gather from all places and sing their songs as 
they know them. Beheve me or not, as you will." 

"Let him sing," said the groom, and Ashik 
continued. 

"I made my morning prayers in the valley of 
the Arzinian; at noon I bowed down in Ezer- 
oum ; at sunset I prayed in Kars, and with the fall 
of night in Tiflis, Allah gave me wings, and I flew 
hither. I give thanks that I did not fall beneath 
the flying hoofs of the swift white horse, for he 
leaped from hill to vale and from vale to hill like 
those who dance on swinging ropes. Allah gave 
wings to the poor singer and he flew to the feast 
of the lovely Magul-Mageri !" 

When Magul-Mageri knew his voice she re- 
joiced and cast the sharp knife on one side and 



134 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

the glass of poison on the other. "You are about 
to break your vow," said her maidens when they 
saw that she no longer held death in her hands. 
"To-night you will become the bride of Kurshud- 
Bey!" 

"Can you not hear?" repUed Magul-Mageri 
happily. "It is the voice of my own Ashik-Kerib !" 
And taking a pair of scissors, she snipped the 
thick veil that covered her fair face. 

When her eyes were no longer shaded she saw 
Ashik-Kerib standing in the middle of the room, 
and throwing themselves into each other's arms 
they fainted with joy. 

Again Kurshud-Bey's brother rushed forward 
with drawn sword, and again his arm was stayed. 
"Peace!" said Kurshud. "What is written on a 
man's forehead when he is born shall surely come 
to pass." 

When Magul-Mageri was revived she blushed 
with shame and hid her face in the tatters of her 
torn tchadra. 

"Now," said Kurshud-Bey to Ashik-Kerib, "I 
plainly see who you are. But tell us, pray, how 
you came such a great distance in such a short 
time." 

"For proof," answered Ashik, "I shall split 



THE TALE OF ASHIK-KERIB 135 

a great stone with my steel sword, and if I tell 
a falsehood — then may my neck become thinner 
than a hair from your head! But, best of all, bring 
to me one who has been blind these seven years 
and I shall return to them their sight." 

Ashik's sister, who had seen all and heard all, 
ran quickly to their old mother and shouted, 
''Deda, Deda, surely this is your lost son and my 
brother!" And taking the old woman by the hand 
she led her to the feast, 

"Know all people the might of White Georgi!" 
said Ashik, and taking the lump of dirt from his 
sleeve he rubbed the blind eyes of his aged mother. 
The old woman's sight was returned to her and 
no one dared to doubt the truth of what Ashik 
had said. Kurshud-Bey gave up the beautiful 
Magul-Mageri without a word, to her true lover. 

Ashik-Kerib was so happy that he bore nobody 
a grudge, and taking his sister's hand, he placed 
it in the palm of Kurshud-Bey. "Let my sister 
comfort you for your loss, Kurshud-Bey," said 
he. "She is no less lovely than my own beautiful 
sweetheart, and with the great dower which I 
shall give her you will be as happy as I shall be 
with my beloved Magul-Mageri." 




XIII 



To Mengralia 



B 



BBbbbbbbb!" cried Vasso, and his sleepy- 
black buffaloes that drew his creaking wooden- 
wheeled cart came to a wiUing halt. A group 
of black-gowned, black-kerchiefed women had 
stepped from a break in the green bay hedge that 
lined the road and stood in the path of his team. 
''Vai-me, deda! Vai-me! A good wife she was I 
And a good mother!" they moaned and wept. 
They tore their black hair that hung down in 

136 



TO MENGRALIA 137 

disorder from beneath their black kerchiefs. The 
faces of some bore scarlet welts where they had 
scratched them with their sharp nails and they 
all waved their arms and mourned as with one 
voice. 

Vasso descended from the cart, placed a stick 
under the heavy pole to lift it from the buffaloes' 
necks, and beckoning to Gogi stepped out after 
the weeping women. 

"Why do they weep so?" asked Gogi, as he 
caught up with his father. "Do you know them, 
or do they know you?" 

"No," replied Vasso to his son. "I do not know 
them; nor do they know me, but someone in the 
household has died." 

"But why do they call us mama-heart?" won- 
dered Gogi. "Have we not come hither to buy a 
horse? But a moment since you spoke of need to 
make haste on the road." 

"This is Mengraha, Gogi-heart," answered 
his father. "These people are Karthli, as are we, 
but their ways differ from ours as does their 
tongue. When a house is in mourning all who 
pass on the road must halt and visit with the 
afflicted." 

"Is it right that the women of a sad house 



138 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

should stand at their gate and summon strangers 
to their table?" asked Gogi. 

"These women are not of the sad house, Gogi," 
explained Vasso. "They are women that are hired 
for a sum of money to gather at sad houses and 
weep for the death of a person. They are paid 
by the master of the house at which they gather." 

"What a strange thing!" said Gogi. 

"It is not so strange when you know the rea- 
son," continued Vasso. "Since it is their custom 
to call every stranger that passes their gate, they 
must always keep a full table of food. It would 
be still stranger if a guest were called to an empty 
table. The women of a sad house in this country 
of Mengralia are busy in the kitchen, for they 
have no time to weep. A good housewife must 
always get the food for her guests with her own 
hands. That is real bread and salt." 

Vasso and Gogi followed the black mourners 
through a little grove of trees and came out into 
an open place in front of the house. In the open 
place stood a long rough table, and about the table 
sat or stood a fair company of men and women. 

"Bread and salt, brothers," greeted them a tall, 
gray-bearded man who appeared to be the Head 



TO MENGRALIA 139 

of the Table. For at funerals as well as feasts 
there must be a Head of the Table. 

"I weep with the master of this house," replied 
Vasso, as the tall man guided them to a place at 
the table. Food was pressed on them by the women 
and for a while father and son ate in silence. 

When they had disposed of a good share of 
the good food on the table the tall man, who was, 
in fact, the Head of the Table, arose and filled a 
long black bullock's horn with wine from a long- 
necked earthen koki which stood on the ground at 
his side. This he passed to Vasso, and filled another 
for Gogi and a third for himself. 

The tall man took a fragment of bread, and 
dipping it into the wine of his horn, laid it care- 
fully on the table before him. "The good mistress 
of this house bids you live long," said he. 

By these words Vasso knew that the mistress 
of the house had died. Likewise dipping a piece 
of bread in his wine, he placed it on the table 
boards before him, and raising the horn to drink, 
he said, "The Kingdom of Heaven be unto this 
dead mistress and long life to the living of this 
house!" 

The words were spoken in the language of 
Mengralia, which Gogi could not understand, but 



140 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

dipping the bread in the wine was something that 
was done in Guria. He, too, dipped his bread in 
his wine, took a sip from his horn, and said in his 
own tongue, "Heavenly Engdom to the dead 
and long life to the living!" 

Vasso would have left when they had finished 
this toast, but the Head of the Table urged them 
to stay for a little while, saying that the priest 
would surely soon come and the funeral be 
brought to an end. They had scarcely resumed 
their seats when the loud cries and moans of the 
women at the gate made it known that someone 
else had arrived. 

"Perhaps this is the priest," whispered Vasso 
to his son, for he was impatient to be on his way, 
but feared to oflfend the master of the sad house. 

The priest came, accompanied by the mourning 
women in black. He blessed the people standing 
in the yard as he passed among them and went 
into the house. Through the open windows could 
be heard his droning voice as he read a last prayer. 
Several young people came out of the house and 
took the coffin lid which leaned against the door- 
post — a sign that death had visited that house. 

All the flowers which had been brought by sor- 
rowing friends were piled onto the lid and the 



TO MENGRALIA 141 

young people moved with them toward the gate. 
Six grown men emerged from the house bearing 
the open coffin. Three long white linen towels 
had been passed under the casket, and support- 
ing it by holding the ends of these towels, the 
men carried it through the door, down the steps, 
and across the yard in the path of the flowers. 

The priest took a place at the head of the pro- 
cession, swinging a smoking censer and chanting 
a prayer from a book which he held in his right 
hand. At his side walked a deacon carrying a tall 
candle and now and then joining the priest in his 
singsong prayer. Behind the coffin came the mas- 
ter of the house, the dead woman's husband, sur- 
rounded by the hired mourners, weeping louder 
than ever now. The dead woman slept in her open 
casket. Her pale hands were folded over her 
breast, and between her fingers a cross had been 
placed. The cross was made of two wax tapers 
which had been heated and stuck together at 
the middle. 

Vasso and Gogi, among others, did not follow 
in the procession, but stood on one side, heads 
bared, bowing and making the sign of the cross 
as it passed before them. 

A woman came from the house, and seeing that 



142 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Vasso and the others were not following to the 
graveyard, she hastened to bring forward a big 
dish heaped with cold boiled rice and dotted with 
tiny bits of colored candies. This was the Dish 
of Remembrance, and everyone took a pinch of 
rice and a piece of candy before leaving. Each, 
as he took his portion, made the sign of the cross 
and murmured, "Kingdom of Heaven to the 
dead!" 

When all had eaten a bit the woman brought 
a koki of water and gave them, one by one, to wash 
their hands as is the custom at the end of a funeral. 

Gogi and his father washed their fingers as did 
all the others, and when this duty was done 
they bowed to the woman who had ministered to 
them and with a whispered farewell hastened to 
their waiting cart and departed. 

"We have lost a day," said Vasso sadly, as he 
and Gogi rode on. "A man cannot buy a horse 
by candlelight. A horse is not a sack of onions 
and it will be dark before we reach the trader's 
house." 

Gogi was not very sorry that they were forced 
to spend a night in Mengralia. He hoped to see 
other strange things, but he nodded his head. 




XIV 

A Horse Trade and a Wedding 



T, 



O GOGI the land of Mengralia seemed very 
flat and ugly. True, the trees were tall and stately ; 
they were too tall and stately. They sprang 
straight up from the level soil to a great height 
as though they did not care to associate with other 
things of the earth. Not so the mountain trees of 
Gogi's home; their bent bodies seemed to turn 
ever back toward the earth as though loath to 
lose its company. Even their knotty, gnarled arms 

143 



144 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

grew out from just above the roots to shelter 
little birds and make steps for those who liked 
to climb into the swaying tops to swing with the 
wind. If any birds were nested in the Mengralian 
trees they were so high in the air that their songs 
were lost before they reached the ears of travelers 
on the road below. 

Gogi turned about in the cart on which he rode 
and looked back toward the mountains that were 
his home. The lowland mists and the dusk of the 
evening made them appear to be a long way off. 
He wondered what Nina and Keto were doing; 
and baby Morro. Father Vasso trudged along 
at the heads of the two buffaloes hitched to the 
creaking cart, but Gogi felt sad and lonesome 
and far from home. He tried a song, but his voice 
sounded squeaky and weak in the open country; 
there were no mountains or hollows to send the 
echoes ringing back. 

"Truly," thought Gogi, "this is an empty place 
and unfit to be lived in. Not even a thicket to hide 
a pig!" 

It was late twilight when Vasso clucked to his 
buffaloes, touched the off one with his switch, 
and guided the grunting, complaining fellows 
off the main road onto a long straight path bor- 



HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 145 

dered with tall trees. At the far end of the path, 
some distance from the highway, stood a house. 
It was unlike the houses of Guria; it was broad 
and squat and sat flat on the level ground. 

"Surely this is a topsy-turvy country," thought 
Gogi. "The trees are tall and the houses are low. 
The people must be as unfriendly as their trees, 
for they have built their homes as far away from 
the road as they possibly could." 

Buffaloes do not like strange places, and Vasso 
was forced to give his pair an occasional cut with 
the switch, accompanied with a sharp word of 
command, to drive them toward the house. 

His shouts must have been heard in the house, 
for a man emerged to meet them and stood be- 
fore his door. As Vasso halted his team the man 
bowed and greeted the travelers in his own lan- 
guage, which Vasso understood. A lad about the 
same age as Gogi came from around the corner 
and took the lead rein from Gogi's father. 

"He will bed down our beasts," Vasso told 
Gogi. "Go with him and give him your help. He 
is the master's son and his father calls him Choo- 
choo!" 

Gogi was pleased to discover that Choo-choo 



146 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

could speak the language of the Karthli. "How 
did you learn our speech?" he asked of him. 

"My father keeps a store in Senaki," the boy 
replied. "We have many customers from among 
the Gurians who live near to our borders." 

"Do you sell things in the store?" inquired 
Gogi. 

"I sometimes sell such things as eggs and 
cheeses," answered Choo-choo, "but if there is 
bartering to be done then I call my father." 

"Then you are a real trader," said Gogi in awed 
surprise. 

"We Mengralians are all traders," the boy re- 
plied with a smile, for he was amused that any- 
one should think it pleasant to be a trader. "If 
we do not trade in the stores we trade horses and 
cattle. There is no place in all Georgia for such 
fine cattle." 

"That I know," said Gogi. "We have come all 
the way from Ozerget to buy a horse of your 
father." 

"And there are no better horses in all Men- 
gralia than my father's," said Choo-choo proudly. 
"Prince Bagration, himself, has bought of him." 

While the boys talked they were unyoking the 
buffaloes and propping the pole of the wooden 



HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 147 

cart. Gogi could see no cornstalks among the lit- 
ter on the stable floor. He picked up a strand of 
the straw from the bedding and examined it. 
It was almost as thin as grass, and here and there 
on it were a few tiny round seeds. It was millet, 
a seed that was little known to Gogi. 

"That is straw from the gormi/^ explained 
Choo-choo. ''You will have some for your supper. 
We grow no corn in Mengralia and so can bake 
no tchadi from corn meal as you of Guria do. We 
make a mush of the gormi and sometimes my 
father brings a little bread from the store when 
it becomes too stale to sell." 

"I have seen the grain of the gormi at home," 
said Gogi, "but I did not know that people ate it. 
With us it is fed to little chickens and not birds." 

"It is very good food," asserted Choo-choo, 
afraid that Gogi would look down on the Men- 
gralians because of their eating chicken feed. 
"But it must be boiled in the right way. The pot 
must be of thick iron and the fire not too hot. 
The most important thing is to beat the gormi 
well with a stout stick all the while it is cooking. 
Only then will it be soft and stick together so 
that you can pick it up in your fingers without 
its crumbling to pieces and falling onto the table." 



148 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Gogi still thought it strange food for men, but 
he said no more about it, fearing to hurt Choo- 
choo's feelings. He decided to talk of something 
else. 

"Your name, Choo-choo, would seem strange 
to mountain ears," he said. 

Choo-choo laughed. "That is not my real 
name," he added. "My real name is the same as 
yours — Gogi." 

"But why are you called Choo-choo?" asked 
the wondering Gogi. 

"In Mengralia," explained Choo-choo, "every 
baby is given some easy name as soon as it is 
born — ^names hke Choo-choo, Zu-zu, Bo-bo, or 
anything that their mother or father might think 
nice. Later, when the baby is baptized, he is given 
his real name after some good saint. When I go 
to the church to take communion the priest always 
calls me Gogi. At home I am Choo-choo, and I 
like Choo-choo better." 

"I like it, too," said Gogi. "It is so easy to re- 
member." 

That night Gogi and Vasso ate with their Men- 
gralian host. The gormi was as good as Choo-choo 
had promised and it went well with a dish of red 
beans hot with red pepper that set in the center 



HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 149 

of the table. Gogi dug deep with his fingers into 
his pile of steaming gormi, pulled out a hot chunk 
and, dipping it into the bowl of beans, ate it with 
great relish. 

From across the table Choo-choo smiled and 
winked and, touching his pursed lips with a thumb 
and two fingers, made a soft kissing noise. Gogi 
understood that this was his way of saying "How 
good!" 

When supper was finished Choo-choo led Gogi 
to another room and they sat together on Choo- 
choo's takhta and talked until both felt sleepy. 
Soon they were both lying asleep on the same 
takhta and covered by one felt coverlet. In the 
other room Vasso and the host smoked and talked 
of the sale to be made in the morning. 

When Gogi awoke the sun was shining into 
the room and he was alone on the takhta, Choo- 
choo was up and gone, but he had not called his 
guest. Gogi was not sorry until he raised himself 
on one arm and looked through the window out 
into the yard. He had overslept the horse trade ! 
Even as he watched he saw his father holding the 
reins of two fine horses in his two hands. Gogi 
knew that his choice lay between these two. One 
was a chestnut and the other was coal black. 



150 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"What a beautiful black !" thought Gogi. "How 
well Father-heart's red saddle pad would look 
against his black sides!" 

Vasso's thoughts must have been the same, for 
he retained the black horse's rein in his hand and 
turned the other's over to the owner. 

''Vashar shouted Gogi. "He has bought the 
black!" 

Vasso heard his son's shout and glanced toward 
the window. He saw Gogi's shining face and cried, 
"Shame on you! You have been sleeping peace- 
fully and left me all alone with a Mengralian 
horse trader. I am sure that I have been sadly 
cheated." 

Gogi was sure that his father had not made 
a bad deal, and in a trice he was out of bed and 
ran out to get a closer look at their new property. 
The black seemed even finer and blacker on closer 
inspection. 

"What is he called, Father-heart?" questioned 
Gogi. 

"Kara-Yussuf," answered Vasso. 

"That is not a name of the Karthli," complained 
Gogi. "What does it mean in our tongue?" 

"In our language his name would be Black 
Joe," replied Vasso. "He found his strange name 



HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 151 

on the other side of the river where the Abkhazi 
live and where he was born." 

Gogi knew that the Abkhazi were fine horse- 
men and Moslems, so he understood the animal's 
queer name and felt certain that his father had 
bought a good horse. Gogi wanted to call him 
Shavi, which in the Georgian language means 
Black, but his father shook his head in objection. 

"It is not good to change a horse's name," he 
said. "It might make him stumble some day." 

Gogi was ready to believe as his father did and 
decided that he must learn to like the horse's old 
name. 

Gogi had wondered the day before at the long- 
skirted coats, or tcherheshas, that Choo-choo and 
his father wore. He had thought to himself that 
such a trailing thing hanging around his ankles 
would soon cost him a broken head on the moun- 
tain paths if it were not torn to tatters on the 
brambles and thorns of the hillsides. Now he saw 
why the Mengralians loved such clothes. Choo- 
choo had climbed onto the horse which had been 
Vasso's second choice — the chestnut — and was 
racing around the yard at a mad canter. The 
horse's strides were wonderful and the long tails 
of Choo-choo's tcherheska flew out in the wind 



152 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

behind and flapped gracefully as he swung with 
the throw of his mount. 

"We shall go a part of the way with you and 
your father," Choo-choo told Gogi. "A kinsman 
of ours is giving his daughter in marriage and 
my father and I are going to the ceremony." 

"Are you riding or walking?" asked Gogi. 

"Mengralians always ride ahorse to marriage 
feasts," replied Choo-choo proudly. "Our kins- 
man would be shamed by us if we arrived on foot." 

Vasso took his high black saddle and red felt 
saddle pad from the cart and cinched them on 
his newly purchased horse. Gogi yoked the sleepy 
buffaloes, Choo-choo's father appeared on a third 
horse, and the little company headed for the road. 

The horse trader led the way and, knowing the 
ins and outs of the countryside as he did, they 
made many short cuts on the homeward trip. The 
spirited horses pranced and swerved under the 
rein of their riders and poor Gogi was thoroughly 
disgusted with his shambling steeds and rocking, 
jolting cart. Over the cool morning air came the 
sharp reports of distant shots. 

Choo-choo reined in his horse and dropped back 
alongside Gogi. "That is our kinsman welcoming 
his guests," he told Gogi. "It is always so in Men- 



HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 153 

gralia. Each guest, as he arrives, is given a salute." 

"It is the same with us of Guria," said Gogi 
hastily, glad to find that they had something in 
common. "And the guests give an answering sa- 
lute." 

"That is true," agreed Choo-choo. "It is a brave 
custom." 

Again and again sounds of gunshots were heard 
as new parties of marriage guests arrived. Each 
time they were nearer and at last the house was 
discovered in a grove of tall trees well back from 
the road. Around the trunk of a giant tree was 
built a circular table about which the earlier ar- 
rivals were gathered. As Gogi's little cavalcade 
came into view the padrone of the house recog- 
nized his kinsmen and another volley of rifle and 
pistol shots rang out. Gogi could not help think- 
ing how dead and dry they sounded without the 
mighty mountains to send them echoing back a 
hundred times. 

The bride's father advanced to welcome them, 
and Vasso was forced to dismount and visit with 
the f casters for a while. Not to do so would have 
been a deadly insult to the host and his guests. 

"Come," said Choo-choo to Gogi. "Get some 
of the good things while you may." 



154 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Gogi was interested to see what Mengralians 
gave their guests and willingly followed his guide. 
Many of the rich dishes were familiar to him, but 
not all. 

"Here is something good," said Choo-choo, and 
thrust a dark piece of food into his hand. 

Gogi bit into the offered titbit. It was, indeed, 
tasty. He asked what it was. 

"That is a stuffed eggplant," said his young 
friend. "It is an eggplant stuffed with lumps of 
fat from a ram's tail." 

Honeyed nuts followed the eggplant into 
Gogi's inquiring mouth. He washed them down 
with pomegranate juice. As fast as he disposed of 
one thing Choo-choo found something new until 
at last he was glad when the crowd of guests be- 
gan to gather in a great, noisy circle and diverted 
his attention. 

"Hurrah!" shouted Choo-choo, "they are going 
to fight their horses." 

"Fight horses?" Gogi repeated in wonderment. 
"I have heard of fighting rams and roosters, but 
never of fighting horses." 

"In Mengralia alone it is done," said Choo- 
choo, "You Gurians call us cowards and traders 
and say that we are afraid to fight, but there is 



HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 155 

no tribe in all Georgia that dares to fight their 
horses as we do at our weddings." 

"Those are the friends of the bride," continued 
Choo-choo, and he pointed to a group of horse- 
men that had collected on one side of the huge 
circle. "The other group is made up of the groom's 
friends and kinsmen. Now watch them fight!" 

Someone fired a shot and the two parties of 
horsemen rode toward each other at a mad gal- 
lop. As they met every horse, as though he knew 
his duty, rose pawing and snorting onto his hind 
legs and threw all his weight onto an opponent. 
Here and there a horse fell or a rider tumbled 
from his saddle with the impact. Gogi stood spell- 
bound and watched. Again and again the riders 
clashed until at last every horseman on one side 
had been either thrown or his horse felled to the 
earth. 

A great shout went up for the victors, pistols 
were fired, and Gogi took a deep breath of relief 
when he saw that no one had been seriously hurt. 

"No man shall ever call the Mengralians cow- 
ards to me," he told Choo-choo. "I felt sure that 
they would all be killed." 

Music began and a dancer stepped into the 



156 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

circle. He cast his round fur hat on the ground 
and started a dance. As he danced he sang, and 
the others joined in the chorus. Choo-choo ex- 
plained the song. 

The man circled around his familiar hat and 
made as though he did not know what it was. 
Sometimes he thought it was a bear — at others a 
lion or a camel. He drew his dagger and ap- 
proached to kill the awful creature. He stabbed 
the hat and discovered that after all it was only 
a cheese. 

Vasso did not wish to be delayed by the wed- 
ding as he had been delayed by the funeral and 
in the applause that followed the dance he mo- 
tioned to Gogi and the two slipped away. As 
they turned again into the main road they heard 
the strains of a song that followed the dance: 

"Wassum warrada, 
Wa, wa, 

Wassum, warrada, 
Wa!" 

"That is the only real song that the Mengra- 
lians have," said Vasso. *'And it has neither words 
nor end — just wassum, warrada, wa." 



HORSE TRADE AND WEDDING 157 

Gogi heard but he did not answer. He was 
afraid that he had eaten too much. He looked 
longingly toward the cool green slopes of his 
mountains and settled himself in the bed of the 
cart for the long journey home. 




XV 



The Golden Fleece 



T, 



HE days grew warmer and warmer, the snow 
climbed higher and higher up the steep slopes 
of the mountains, and the little brook that ran 
in back of the little log kitchen shrank back into 
its shallow course and became clearer and clearer 
until the smooth pohshed stones on its bottom 
made little ripples on the sparkling surface of 
the water. 

Keto noticed that Gogi disappeared for a short 
period every day. Sometimes it was in the morn- 

158 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 159 

ing and at other times it was in the afternoon, 
but always he returned from one point, some- 
where along the brook above the house. Keto 
suspected that Gogi was hiding something from 
her — that he had a secret. She would have liked 
to ask him what it was, but she swallowed her 
curiosity and waited silently, if somewhat im- 
patiently. Gogi always shared his secrets with 
her sooner or later. 

At last her curiosity was satisfied. Keto was 
returning with her brother from the woods where 
they had gone for a frolic. Gogi led the way, but 
when he came to the brook he did not cross it by 
the stepping stones as usual, but turned sharply 
to the right and followed up the hither bank. 
Even before Gogi spoke, Keto was certain that 
her brother was about to show her the object of 
his mysterious business that so often took him on 
his lone jaunts above the house. 

*'I have a secret," said Gogi solemnly, as his 
sister, anxious to learn the cause for their turn- 
ing away from the house, quickened her pace and 
came abreast of him. ''It was to be my secret 
alone," he continued, "but it can be intrusted 
to you also. I know that you will not tell anyone." 

"I always keep your secrets," Keto assured 



160 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

him. "Did I not keep the one about the wild bees 
that you found in the wood? Oh, Gogi-heart, have 
you found another nest of bees? Where did you 
find them?" 

"This is no nest of bees," said her brother, 
making a motion with his hand as though to brush 
the imaginary bees to one side. Nor did he tell 
his now impatient sister what it really was. "You 
shall see," said he, "for yourself." 

The two children followed the brook until they 
came to a place where it broadened out and be- 
came quite wide. It was wider here than at any 
other spot which they had passed, but the water 
was very shallow. It seemed to flow more swiftly, 
too. Gogi seated himself on a large stone that 
jutted out into the stream, and having kicked his 
wooden sandals from his naked feet, rolled his 
baggy woolen trousers above his knees. Keto soon 
saw the reason, for this done, he slipped from the 
stone and waded into the running water. 

"Ooooo!" said Gogi, as the chilly brook water 
lapped against his bare legs. "It is cold!" 

Despite the cold Gogi waded out from the shore 
to about the middle of the stream. There he rolled 
his sleeves to the elbow and, stooping low, began 
to grope on the shallow bottom. Keto found a seat 



rfwBiBtfMita 



^^ i^i I "^ " 




hh w?wik 



"/ have a secrety' said Gogi solemnly. 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 161 

on the stone which her brother had used and 
watched. Gogi fumbled with his fingers at some 
object hidden beneath the water and after a mo- 
ment straightened up with something in his 
hands. It was dirty white in color, and water 
dribbled from the soggy mass to fall back into 
the brook in little silver splashes. Keto looked 
closer as her brother approached the shore grasp- 
ing the thing which he had fished from the bot- 
tom of the brook. 

"It is a ragged old sheepskin!" she exclaimed, 
and her face was clouded with disappointment as 
she eyed the sodden burden which Gogi deposited 
on the ground at her feet. 

"To be sure it is a sheepskin," agreed her 
brother. "But it is no common sheepskin — it is a 
golden fleece!" 

"That is no golden fleece," retorted Keto dis- 
gustedly. "I know it well. It is a piece which 
Father tore from his old jacket that used to hang 
in the barn. The jacket was no good and he took 
a piece to put under the buffalo yoke when old 
Rustam had a sore neck. A Kurdish beggar would 
not thank you for it. A golden fleece, indeed!" 

"It is a golden fleece," repeated Gogi stub- 
bornly, as he smoothed the wet skin on a flat stone 



162 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

to dry. "Shall I tell you the tale of the Golden 
Fleece?" 

"I always like to hear a tale," said Keto, "but 
you cannot make me believe that this old skin 
is a golden fleece." 

"Perhaps it is not, after all," sighed Gogi, as 
he dug with his fingers into the matted wool. 
"For weeks I have waited for this time and now 
it seems that I shall find nothing. I shall tell you 
the tale, however, and then you will know what 
I hoped to discover." 

"Many years ago," continued Gogi, "these 
mountains of ours were filled with gold. Every 
summer when the snows on their high peaks be- 
gan to melt the mountain sides were streaked 
with little streams of water that rushed down to 
meet the brooks and rivers, just as they are in 
these days. But when there was gold in the moun- 
tains the water swept it up and along with it. 
The water was so swift that even the heavy grains 
of gold were washed along like sand and peb- 
bles. 

Gogi noticed that his sister listened eagerly 
and went on with his story: "Our people, in those 
ancient days, used to peg skins of sheep to the 
bottoms of the brooks at the time when they be- 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 163 

gan to swell with the melted snow, and as the 
floods swept along the tiny grains of gold they 
were caught in the tangling wool. The sand and 
pebbles, which were lighter, did not sink into the 
wool and were carried on. 

"Our people gathered much gold in this way 
and became very rich. They also learned how to 
make golden thread and cloth of gold and fine 
hilts for swords and drinking cups. Foreigners 
came from far over the seas to buy our gold or 
steal it, but many were afraid to visit us. In those 
times some of our beloved mountains were still 
fire mountains, and when they thundered and 
spouted smoke the outlanders were frightened. 
They counted our mountains the place where the 
giant who had given fire to man was imprisoned 
for this good act. When the mountains roared they 
believed it to be the groans of the giant, for he 
had been condemned to be tied forever on a great 
stone cliff; every day an eagle came and ate out 
his liver and every night it grew again. . . . This 
is the tale as the natlia, our godfather, told it to 
me." 

As Gogi told the story he continued to search 
the wool for gold, and before the tale was finished 
Keto, too, was stooped over the old skin. 



164 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"It is no use," said Gogi at last. "There is no 
gold in this fleece. We could have sold it at the 
bazaar in Tiflis when D^^a-heart takes us and 
bought things with the money." 

Keto was not so disappointed as her brother 
because she had not really expected to find any 
gold. Nor had she waited all those weeks for the 
swollen brook to go down and leave a gift of 
yellow metal. She was very sorry for Gogi, 
though, and said as they walked homeward: 
"Never mind, Gogi-heart, you can try again next 
year. Perhaps you will have better fortune next 
time." 

Gogi was too disappointed to think so far ahead 
as next year, and only shook his head sadly. 

That night when they all sat in the kitchen by 
the brook and Vasso, having finished his supper 
of hot corn-meal porridge and cold red beans, 
leaned back to roll a funnel-shaped cigarette, the 
children told him about Gogi's golden fleece. 

Father Vasso did not laugh at their story or 
call them foolish. He did not even smile. He just 
listened seriously, finished rolling his fat cigarette, 
and lighted it from a glowing coal which Keto 
handed him on a little piece of bark from the open 
kitchen fire. Perhaps Vasso remembered the first 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 165 

time he had heard from someone the story of the 
Fleece of Gold and his own bitter disappointment 
when he found no yellow grains in the skin which 
he had pegged to the brook bottom with so much 
hope. Surely he remembered, for the words which 
he now spoke to his son were the same which a 
wise old man had spoken to him in his hour of 
disillusion. 

"Perhaps," ventured Gogi, "the gold has all 
been taken." 

"Gold has been taken and gold has been given," 
replied his father. "Gold of one sort was taken 
and gold of another and better sort given in its 
stead. 

"The gold which you sought is evil gold. It 
brought much trouble to our people. We have 
a saying: *Easy to get, but hard to hold.' So it 
was with this gold. A man had but to put his 
sheepskin on the bottom of a stream at flood time 
and, lo, after a few days it was heavy with yellow 
gold. Greedy neighbors came to steal the gold 
and the finders fought to keep it. It was seldom 
in those days that a man lived long enough to 
become gray-headed. Many young men died in 
battle before they had beards on their chins. We 
became a nation of warriors, always fighting to 



166 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

keep our gold. But fight or not the gold was lost." 

"Did the outlanders take the gold from us?" 
asked Gogi. 

"The outlanders, especially the Greeks, took 
much of it, but much was spent in the very fight 
to keep it. Gold became scarcer and scarcer, and 
now there is very little to be found. In some 
streams the men of the mountains still peg their 
fleeces to catch the gold, but they find very little. 
Perhaps there is no more gold in the mountains; 
perhaps the rivers and brooks no longer flow in 
the same beds. Their courses may have changed 
so that their waters do not wash through the rich 
earth that holds the gold." 

"But what is the other gold. Father-heart?'* 
asked Keto. "What is the gold which was given 
in return?" 

"I am about to tell of that," answered Vasso. 
"That gold is the good gold. It is good and brings 
good." 

"Even when our land was filled with gold we 
suffered. The stony slopes of our mountains grew 
but little wheat. In times of peace our gold went 
for bread and in times of war our people died 
of hunger, gold or no gold. Because of the want 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 167 

of bread we were often forced to make peace at 
a great sacrifice with our hostile neighbors. Our 
men were fighting much of the time, but even 
when they were at home they could not with all 
their labor make the scrubby wheat grow much 
higher than sheep's grass on the land that we 
have. It seemed that everything grew well — fruit, 
nuts, the grape — everything but wheat. 

"Then it was that we got our gold returned 
from the West. The greedy Westerners, when 
they could find nothing more to take from us in the 
East, turned about and sought riches in the far 
West. In the West they found even more gold 
than that which had been ours, but they also found 
that which is even dearer to us than pure gold — 
they found Indian maize. 

"Indian maize and tobacco — that is the gold 
which we got from the West in return for the 
gold which they took from us. Grain that will 
grow in every crook and crevice of our mountain 
home and tobacco that gives us all we want for 
our own use with loads to sell to others. 

"Now we no longer fear famine and want. We 
shall never be hungry again. We have the gold 
of another sort. True, it cannot be had by casting 
a woolly skin into a brook. One must work; the 



168 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

earth must be turned, the seed planted, the stalk 
tended, and the harvest gathered with labor. 

"The other gold was 'easy to get, but hard to 
keep'; this golden grain that we eat and Uve by- 
is 'harder to get but easier to keep.' " 

Gogi had forgotten his disappointment by the 
time his father brought his story to an end, and 
at the last words he looked up with a smile and 
said: 

"The next time I go to seek gold with skins 
the skins wiU be on the broad backs of our two 
black water buffaloes, Rustam and Nazira, or 
on my two hands that grasp the plow handles." 




XVI 



Games and Nuts 



V. 



AI-MI'' cried Keto, as she rubbed her 
bruised knuckles. *'I have forgotten how this 
game is played with sitting in the house all winter. 
That is the third time my stone has come down 
on my hand this morning." 

"You should be a boy and play knucklebones," 
said her brother Gogi, laughing a little at her 
mishap, for it was not his hand that smarted. 

Keto had been playing a game very much like 
"jacks," but in place of a bouncing rubber ball 
and little iron men she used a handful of little 
shells which the natlia had sent her from the sea- 
shore and a hard round stone. The stone, of course. 



170 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

would not bounce like a ball of rubber, so she 
was forced to toss it into the air, grab up the shells, 
one, two, three or more, and twist her hand back 
in time to catch the f alHng stone. Sometimes Keto 
fumbled a shell in her grab at them or was a little 
too slow in turning her hand. When this was the 
case she got a sound crack on her knuckles from 
the hard stone that was sure to make them ache 
for a while. 

Gogi would have been ashamed to play at 
"jacks," for he thought it a girls' game, but Keto, 
like most girls, was wilUng enough to play his 
boys' game with him. 

"Where are your bones?" she asked her 
brother. 

Gogi dug down into the pocket of his baggy 
homespun breeches, and when he brought his 
hand out he held in it a half dozen knucklebones 
— ^little roundish bones from the legs of sheep. He 
divided the bones with his sister and they each 
picked a firm smooth bone for a "taw." 

Keto and Gogi were sitting on what they called 
the maranni. All that could be seen of the mar- 
anni was a smooth square of hard-packed earth 
on which not a blade of grass grew, although the 
ground all about was green. The maranni is the 



GAMES AND NUTS 171 

spot in which the great earthen wine jars are 
buried while the wine is being cured. Grass is not 
allowed to grow on that spot, for one is always 
either digging another jar into the earth or tak- 
ing one out to supply wine for some feast day. 
Some of these jars are big enough to hold a large 
cow, and many Gurians have jars in their mar an-- 
nis which have been in the ground for years and 
years. 

Gogi drew a small circle in the clay surface of 
the maranni with a twig and placed one of his 
bones in the ring. Keto also placed a bone in the 
circle and they stepped back to play. It was very 
much like a game of marbles or *'immies" played 
with bones. The bones, however, were not quite 
round as marbles are and for that reason were 
thrown and not rolled. 

The game was to either bang a bone out of 
the ring or "kill" the other fellow's '^taw." When 
a player lifted up his "taw" to make a shot, he 
drew a line in the dirt where it had lain. He could 
swing his arm as far back of the line as he wished, 
but if he went over it in throwing his "taw" 
it was "fudging" and he was fined a bone. 

"You have won all my bones," wailed Keto 
before the game had fairly commenced. 



172 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

*'Here," said her brother, who was anxious for 
her to play a httle longer with him, "I will give 
you some more. Is it not a better game than play- 
ing at 'stones'?" 

"The game," said Keto, "is not nearly so nice, 
but I haven't hurt my hand in this game. It is 
not always the boys' games which are the rough- 
est." 

"Let us play 'Ups and Downs'," said Gogi, 
when he noticed that his sister was beginning to 
tire of playing at a game in which she could not 
win. 

"We shall play for filbert nuts," said Keto, 
agreeing to the new game. "You have only a few 
bones and I soon lose my share. We can have as 
many nuts as we wish." And Keto ran to her 
'mother to beg a double handful of smooth, brown 
filbert nuts. 

"Mother did not give me so many, after all," 
complained Keto when she returned. "The box 
where she keeps the nuts is almost empty." 

"We shall soon have fresh nuts," said Gogi. 
"I was in the wodds yesterday and the green, 
feathery tufts that cover the nuts are turning 
yellow." 

"The pigs know that the nuts are ripening, 



GAMES AND NUTS 173 

too," his sister added. "They wander all day in 
the thickets and never come home in the middle 
of the day as they did when there was less to eat 
in the woods." 

"Aye, and we shall soon have fun with the pigs," 
said Gogi, thinking of the sport to be had in play- 
ing tag with the snorting, greedy beasts in the 
filbert thickets. 

"Let us go now to the woods," begged Keto. 
"Perhaps we shall be able to find enough ripe 
nuts for our game." 

"Good!" agreed her brother, and hand in hand 
they dashed down the slope of the yard, past the 
little log kitchen to the bank of the shallow brook. 

"Oh!" exclaimed Keto in pained surprise, when 
she saw the muddy torrent that rushed madly 
along between the narrow banks. "Surely this 
dirty water is not our lovely brooklet ! See, it has 
hidden our stepping stones. It is far too deep for 
us to cross." 

"It is raining in the high places," her brother 
explained, "and as a consequence our brook is 
having a hard time carrying all the water away. 
It will soon go down. It is not nearly so deep to- 
day as it was yesterday. Do you see the little tufts 
of leaves and dried grass that are hanging on the 



174 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

roots and rocks above the water? That is where the 
brook come to a few days ago. As it goes down it 
leaves these marks to show the heights that it 
reached. I, too, have made a mark for the brook. 
I have cut a notch in the log that stands in the 
brook to hold up the corner of the mill. Every 
year I make a mark. Perhaps I shall one day make 
a mark higher than the one which Grandfather 
left when he was a boy. That year the water came 
so high that the kitchen was washed away and 
Grandfather's notch comes at the very top of the 
log — almost to the floor of the grist mill.^' 

"But how are we going to cross?" asked Keto, 
anxious to change the subject, for she was a lit- 
tle frightened to hear these tales of high water 
and kitchens being washed away. 

"We must follow the brook down to the mill 
and cross on the log," replied Gogi. 

Keto and Gogi walked along the bank of the 
brook until they came to the old mill perched on 
its long legs high above the flooded streamlet. It 
stood on the farther bank and from its open door 
a huge log of wood stretched out like a bridge 
over the brook. 

Gogi slipped off his wooden sandals and in his 



GAMES AND NUTS 175 

wool-stockinged feet walked across the crude 
bridge without a waver. When he reached the 
rough floor of the mill he turned and motioned to 
Keto to follow. "Come," he urged. "You have 
crossed it before." 

True, Keto had crossed it before, but never 
when the water was so high. As she stepped gin- 
gerly out onto the shppery log she glanced down 
at the swollen brook below. Keto was not afraid 
of high places ; she had followed the sheep on their 
mountain paths, she had climbed high trees ; but 
this was something diflferent. The muddy water 
that rushed beneath her hesitating feet seemed 
greedy, angry, and she was frightened. She saw 
how it threw itself at the clay banks and swirled 
back in foaming eddies, how it wrapped itself 
about the long legs of the old mill as though it 
wished to tear them from its path. 

What was it that Gogi had said? The brook 
had a hard time to take care of all the water that 
came from the mountain tops. "That is it," 
thought Keto. "The brook is not really angry; it 
is busy. It is hastening to carry the water down to 
the river and on to the sea." 

To Keto the swirling water seemed no longer 



176 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

terrible; the loud gurglings about the logs and 
the hissing swishings against the clay banks were 
no longer threatening. The brook was very busy 
and as it labored it sang a merry song — a working 
song such as Nina sang when she sat before her 
loom to weave, or such as father Vasso shouted 
as he followed the heavy plow and the sleepy buf- 
faloes. Holding her sandals in one hand and lift- 
ing her skirts with the other, Keto walked firmly 
over the log to the farther side and stood beside 
her brother. 

Brother and sister stepped from the platform 
of the silent mill and entered the wood that lay 
before them. Between the black trunks of the 
taller trees grew thorny clumps of alutcha, the 
sour Caucasian wild plum, and here and there a 
lighter blotch of green showed the presence of 
a filbert tree. 

"Look!" cried Keto. "The greedy pigs have 
been before us ! 

She pointed, as she spoke, to one of the filbert 
shrubs, and Gogi saw that the soft earth all about 
the clump had been plowed and turned into a 
cloddy black circle by dozens of sharp hoofs and 
searching, pointed snouts. From the depths of 



GAMES AND NUTS 177 

the thickets came an occasional snort or porkish 
squeal. 

"Abba! Ugly face," shouted Gogi to the hid- 
den pig. "You may eat in peace to-day, for we 
hurry. But beware when we come another time, 
for we shall give you the run of your life !" 

Keto untied her apron and spread it on the 
ground beneath the tree. Gogi hunted about and 
found a long stick with a fork on the end with 
which he pulled the green boughs down within 
reach. 

The tender nuts grew in clusters of three and 
fairly covered the parent tree, but they were not 
all ripe. Each nut was enveloped in a thin husk 
that opened out at the top into four feathered 
petals Hke a pale green blossom. Some of the 
husks had turned slightly yellowish where they 
curved around the smooth side of the nut, and 
these were the ones that were ripe for picking. 

As Keto and Gogi picked they also ate, for 
the filbert is never so sweet as when it is still a 
little green. It is then that the meat fills the 
soft shell as full as can be and the goody is soft 
and milky and easy to chew. 

"Enough!" said Gogi, and let the limb which 
he held in his long crotched stick slip out and fly 



178 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

back into place. "We have filled your apron and 
there is no need to gather nuts and leave them 
for the pigs to eat. They steal too many as it is." 

"Let us go home and give some to Mother," 
suggested Keto. "She will be glad to have a taste 
of the new nuts." 

"Good," agreed her brother. "Perhaps she will 
kill a chicken and make a dish of tsutsivi with a 
sauce from fresh filberts. We can play 'Ups and 
Downs' with those left over." 

This time Keto was not afraid of the roaring 
brook and soon they were back on the flat grass- 
less square of the maranni playing at the game of 
"Ups and Downs." 

Each in turn would take a knucklebone between 
thumb and forefinger and give it a fiUip onto the 
smooth soil of the maranni. If it fell, as it usually 
did, on its flat side the player got nothing, but 
if it stood up on end the player won ten filbert 
nuts. It was very difficult to make the little bone 
stand on end, but sometimes it fell on edge and 
that meant five nuts to the lucky one who had 
thrown it. 

This was a very exciting game. Even the men 
liked to play at i% and Gogi and Keto tossed the 



GAMES AND NUTS 179 

.i 

tiny knucklebone back and forth until their play 
was interrupted by a loud squawking near the 
kitchen by the brook. 

"Hark!" said Gogi. "I was right. Mother- 
heart is kilHng a chicken! Vasha^ vasha! We shall 
have tsutsivi to-day. Tsutsivi with nut sauce from 
fresh filberts! Hurrah!" 

Gogi leaped to his feet, scattering feathered 
filbert nuts right and left from his lap, and raced 
away toward the kitchen to watch his mother pre- 
pare his favorite dish. 

Keto lingered behind to gather the nuts to- 
gether, and as she scooped and scraped them back 
into her apron she seemed a little angry. 

"Just like a boy," thought she, "to go racing 
off when he begins to lose." 

Among the nuts which she had swept into a 
pile she saw something round and white. She 
picked it up ; it was her "jack" stone. Keto tossed 
the stone into the air several times and caught it 
deftly as it fell. She tossed the stone again and 
as her hand turned to catch it she held a round 
filbert nut in her open palm. 

"Ones!" said Keto, and tossed the stone again. 

This time as the stone came down her hand held 
two nuts. 



180 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"Twos!" said Keto, and forgot that boys were 
such poor playmates sometimes. 

"Squawk, squawk!" cried the chicken behind 
the kitchen. 

"Threes !" said Keto, and tossed the hard, round 
stone again. 




w 



XVII 

The Potter 



E ARE going to have a visitor," said Keto 
to her corncob doll. "Old Pasha is bowing to us; 
when a dog bows guests are certain to follow 
soon." 

The corncob doll did not answer; it just gazed 
with silly eyes from under its shocky wig of silk 
yarn, but the guest came. His appearance sent 
Keto flying to warn her mother. 

"Hi, Z)^da-heart, the potter comes," she 
shouted. And Nina came from the kitchen to bid 

181 



182 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

him welcome, for in Guria any visitor that comes 
to the house is counted a guest. That he happens 
to be a trader and has goods to sell does not les- 
sen his welcome. 

The potter was a man stooped with age; and 
his old shoulders were bent still lower by reason 
of the great weight of his wares which he carried 
in a wicker basket strapped to his back. Two 
similar baskets were slung athwart a tiny burro 
which he drove before him with occasional soft 
prods of a stout traveler's staff. 

The potter knew well the house of Vasso, and 
when he neared the gate he shouted, "Ho-a, ho-a," 
to his little beast, and shoving hard on the oflf 
basket, he turned him into the yard. The potter 
gave pohte greeting to Nina and her daughter 
and slipped his pack from his back. The burro 
"hee-hawed" a greeting to the animals which he 
smelled in the barn across the yard, and imme- 
diately set about munching the long sweet grass 
that grew before the house. 

''Welcome and rest thee," said Nina to the 
trader, and Keto poured water for his dusty tired 
hands. ''Rest and eat, for I have a thing to tell 
you that may spoil your appetite if you hear it 
before a meal." 



THE POTTER 183 

The potter guessed from Nina's words that she 
had found a bad pot among the last which she 
had bought from him, and he was troubled. He 
was not averse to giving a customer another pot 
for a bad one, but he was very proud of his work 
and felt shame for a poor pot or jar. 

"What is at fault, O Woman of the House?" 
inquired he of Keto's mother. "Have I sold you 
a bad pot, or is it a hoki for water, perhaps?" 

"It is neither," answered Nina. "You gave me 
a poor tchadi stone which split the second time it 
was placed in the fire. When guests came and 
much tchadi was needed I was forced to bake my 
corn meal in an iron pan, and everyone knows 
that tchadi baked in an iron pan is not nearly so 
good as that from a stone tchadi dish of fine stone." 

"I am pleased that it is not a pot or koki/^ said 
the potter. "Poor pots mean a poor potter, but 
the best of eyes cannot see a weak spot in the 
depths of a slab of stone. When I carve the tchadi 
stones from a sohd slab only the rotten spots that 
are on the outside can be seen." 

"That is true and I do not blame you," said 
Nina. "I am only very sorry that my guests have 
been given so much poor bread since the stone 
cracked. I have still one old stone and I shall 



184 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

buy two new ones this time ; if one breaks I shaE 
still be left with a pair." 

"You shall have them and try them while I am 
yet here," said the old potter. He hastened to 
where his burro was grazing and fetched two 
heavy dishes carved from clean gray stone. "Make 
your 'noon bread' in these," he begged. "Let us 
see how they will stand the heat." 

Keto accepted the two stone dishes from the 
old man and placed them carefully in the open 
kitchen fire bottom upward. Nina had brought 
the potter to the kitchen, and he sat on a low 
bench against the log wall and gave them all the 
news from miles around. Not a yard had a new 
colt or a house a new roof but the old wanderer 
knew of it, and it was part of his job to pass this 
gossip on to all that he visited in the course of 
his journeying. It was a pleasure both to him and 
to those he visited. 

While the dishes were heating Keto dipped a 
smaU wooden bowl of corn meal from the round 
wooden drum that stood in the corner of the room. 
She pounded a few coarse lumps of rock salt into 
fine powder and sprinkled it over the meal. She 
dipped a gourdf ul of boiling water from the great 
iron pot that hung over the fire and poured it 



THE POTTER 185 

over the meal. When the meal had steeped well 
and had grown cool enough to knead, Keto mixed 
it thoroughly with her fingers and patted the 
dough into the two dishes which she now dragged, 
hot from the fire. Over the tchadi dishes Keto 
placed sheets of iron and shoved them into the 
ashes near the fire. Over the iron covers she sprin- 
kled embers and more ashes, and left the bread 
to bake. 

At noontime Vasso and Gogi came from their 
work — Vasso from the woods where he had been 
chopping a tree with the right sort of bend for 
a new buffalo yoke, and Gogi from the tobacco 
patch where he had been hunting out and killing 
the tobacco worms that eat the broad green to- 
bacco leaves. Father and son exchanged greetings 
with the guest-trader and after they had washed 
they sat down to hear their share of his gossip 
while waiting for the corn bread that was steam- 
ing and browning in the new tchadi stones. 

"Blessings on your bread and salt," said the 
potter, when Keto dumped the fresh bread, baked 
to a rich golden brown, onto the crude table. "My 
stones are good — none better," he continued, "but 
more than a good stone is needed to bake such a 
tchadi as this." 



1B6 NOAH^S GRANDCHILDREN, 

"A good appetite to you," replied Keto, blush- 
ing with pleasure at the old man's praise. 

Vasso broke the bread with quick snaps, for 
it was very hot, and placed a steaming chunk 
before each eater. "Eat, if it please you," said 
he to the potter, shoving his clasp knife in his 
direction so that the guest might cut himself a 
slice of the cheese that lay on the table beside a 
pot of rehsh made from green plums and red 
pepper. 

The meal completed, the potter spread the 
wares which he carried in his basket on the hard- 
packed earthen floor of the kitchen. Deep bowls 
and shallow bowls, squat jugs and goose-necked 
water hokis, wide-mouthed jars and tiny drink- 
ing jugs called tchintchari stood in tempting ar- 
ray before the eyes of the admiring family. Some 
were glazed, some were plain, and still others 
were decorated with streaks of gay colors that 
gave their dull red sides a holiday glitter. 

"Where do you find the clay of which you make 
these pretty blue bowls?" Keto asked the potter. 
She held in her hand one of the smooth glazed 
articles and rail a curious finger over its glassy 
surface. 

"I find the clay for the pots in the country 



THE POTTER 187 

around the village of Gori," said the trader. "But 
the smooth blues and greens are put on over the 
red clay of the pots before I bake them. That 
is a secret of my trade which my father taught 
me when I was a boy. Every potter has such 
secrets for glazing and coloring which he guards 
jealously and passes to no one but a son or close 
kinsman. If others learned the secrets they would 
make their own pots and we would lose our piece 
of bread." 

"I have been to Gori with my father to buy 
cider apples," said Gogi, *'and all the clay we saw 
was greenish white and sticky. Once it was rainy 
and our cartwheels bogged to their axles in the 
roads. How can you make red pots of white 
clay?" 

"That is no secret," replied the potter, laugh- 
ing. "I can tell you that. The clay is white when 
the pots are made, but it has iron in it. In the 
heat of the fire, when the pots are baked, the iron 
turns red. That is why I have red ware. If the 
clay had no iron it would not turn red and no pot- 
ter would use it for pots then. Clay which does 
not turn red in the fire is very scarce and when 
it is found it is used for making chinaware such 
as rich people have on their tables," 



188 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"That is true," agreed father Vasso. "I have 
seen them making tile and bricks in the clay pits 
at Gori; they go into the ovens white and come 
out red." 

"I have never seen such beautiful tchintcharisf' 
exclaimed Keto, picking up one of the tiny drink- 
ing jugs. 

A tchintchari is a small ewer with a body no 
larger than a lemon and a neck about six inches 
long that flares out at the top. They are used 
for drinking toasts on feast days when the whole 
family is toasted. The toast is passed to the 
drinker on a tray that holds a tiny tchintchari for 
every member of the family which is being hon- 
ored. Tchintcharis are often given away after 
the toasts. Sometimes when the toast has been 
made on a very important occasion the little jugs 
are shattered on the edge of the tables as they 
are emptied. That is good business for the potter. 

''Tchintcharis we need," said Nina, and she 
picked from the rows several little jugs that 
pleased her best in color and shape, and examined 
them closely for rough spots and cracks. "I shall 
have these," she added, when she had satisfied 
herself that they were flawless. 

"The tchadi stones are good, mother-heart," 



THE POTTER 189 

said Keto, and she offered the newly bought stone 
bread dishes for her mother's approval. They were 
now quite cool and Nina took them in her hands 
and looked them over well before she nodded her 
head in assent. 

"The tchadi stones and tcJiintcJiaris are all that 
I need," said she, turning to her husband. "Is 
there naught that you wish?" 

"If St. Nina guards our grapes," he answered, 
"we shall need another tchani to hold our wine 
this fall." Turning to the potter, he asked, "What 
will a tchani of sixty buckets cost me, neighbor?" 

By "a tchani of sixty buckets" Vasso meant 
a huge earthen jar such as are sunk in the ground 
of the maranni, to hold sixty buckets of wine. A 
bucket is about five gallons. 

The potter, of course, understood and after a 
moment's thought he said, "Such a tchani will cost 
you three pieces of Turkish gold if you come to 
Gori and take it from my yard in your own cart." 

Three pieces of Turkish gold seemed a great 
deal of money to the hard-working Vasso, and 
he said so. He and the potter haggled back and 
forth until the latter agreed to let him have the 
wine jar for two pieces of Turkish gold and five 



190 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

buckets of red wine to be delivered when Vasso 
came for his jars. 

Vasso and the potter struck hands to bind the 
deal, and the potter arose and prepared to make 
his departure. He repacked his unsold wares in 
the shoulder basket which he lifted to his back 
with Gogi's aid, and giving thanks to Nina for 
her hospitality, he bade the family farewell and 
went out to seek his burro. 

At first the little beast was nowhere to be seen, 
but Gogi, who had followed the guest into the 
yard, soon discovered him. 

"He is in the garden — ^the rascal," Gogi 
shouted. "He got through the hedge, baskets and 
all!" 

When the potter joined Gogi he saw his burro 
kneeling on the soft earth of the turnip bed calmly 
munching the tops from the turnips and taking 
a nibble now and then to flavor his repast from 
the yellow saffron blossoms that grew between 
the rows. 

"Ho — Bairam — ^Up! Up I" his master urged 
him, but the donkey paid him no heed other than 
a stubborn shake of his long-eared head. Nor did 
he rise until the potter, with Gogi's help, lifted 
the heavy baskets, burro and all, from the ground. 



THE POTTER 191 

Once on his feet, however, he responded to his 
old master's cries and minced along the path be- 
fore him with short prim steps. 

"He is not even ashamed of his naughtiness," 
laughed Gogi, as he waved the old potter a good- 
bye. 

The erring burro, Bairam, a long green turnip 
leaf still dangling from his busy jaws, trod stiflP- 
legged down the road with his swaying load, his 
master close behind. The potter was following 
his beast with loud scoldings for his thieving, and 
as Gogi ran toward the little log kitchen to tell 
Keto about it all, he thought he heard the burro 
give a soft "he-haw." 




XVIII 

Hawking 



OGOOOO! , . . Gogoooo!" 

When a person is called to in Georgia his name 
is always made to end in an "o." So when Gogi 
heard the shout he knew that he was being called. 
His heart jumped, for he thought he recognized 
the voice, and dropping the little stick with which 
he had been helping the worker bees kill the lazy, 
useless drones which they thrust from the depths 
of their hollow log hive, he hastened to the front 
of the house to answer. 

At the gate that led onto the road stood a sturdy 
youth in a scarlet blouse. It was Vanno, the 

192 



HAWKING 193 

son of big Grigo the blacksmith — Vanno the 
wrestler; and he hailed his young friend with 
another hearty shout: 

"Victory to Gogi and long life!" 

"To you victory, Vanno-heart ; and may your 
trouble be on my head," answered Gogi, giving 
his hand into the strong, horny palm of the 
smith's son. "Welcome to my father's roof." 

"I thank you for your welcome," replied 
Vanno, "but I cannot stop." 

Gogi's face fell and his smile disappeared with 
disappointment on hearing the big lad's words, 

"What!" he cried. "Have you come from your 
work in Batum only to return so soon?" 

"No," replied Vanno. "Perhaps I shall not re- 
turn to Batum. Your natlia has closed his busi- 
ness there. Has he not written you of this?" 

"We have heard nothing," said Gogi. "But tell 
me, then. Why are you in such haste to-day?" 

"I am but on my way to the house of the priest 
in Ozerget. He wishes me to repair the iron grille 
before the church and I stopped, hoping that 
you would care to go with me." 

Gogi's smile returned in a moment. "That will 
be fun," he cried. "Just wait until I tell Mother 



194 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

and Keto. I am sure that Mother will let me go 
with you." 

Gogi was right. Nina willingly permitted him 
to go with Vanno and both she and Keto came 
out of the house to greet the smith's son and give 
him their respects to be carried to the old priest 
in the village church. 

"Can I not carry some of your tools?" begged 
Gogi, pointing to what seemed to be a bag on 
Vanno's arm. 

Vanno looked surprised for a second and then 
he laughed loudly. "The tool I have on my arm, 
Gogi-heart, is one that can carry itself," he 
chuckled. 

"What sort of tool is this, Vanno?" asked the 
astonished Gogi. 

"You shall see for yourself," returned the 
smith's son, and as he spoke he turned back the 
edge of the cloth that covered the bundle on his 
left arm. Gogi's eyes popped with wonderment 
as the folds were raised. 

The bigger boy's hand was incased in a heavy 
leather glove that covered his wrist and forearm 
as well, and gripping the glove at the wrist were 
half a dozen wicked, long, black claws on the 
ends of as many slender, pale golden-yellow toes. 



HAWKING 195 

"A hunting falcon!" shouted Gogi. "A sharp 
tool, indeed!" 

"His name is Hassan," said Vanno. "I have 
trained him all this spring. I'll wager there is 
no better hawk in all Guria. But that we shall 
see, for we shall hunt with him along the road." 

"How does one hunt with a falcon, Vanno? I 
never hunted with one," Gogi said. 

"I shall teach you," replied Vanno. "You will 
soon learn." 

"It will be fun to learn," said Gogi gladly. 
"Perhaps I shall have one of my very own some 
day." 

"Perhaps," agreed Vanno, and smiled, though 
Gogi could see nothing to smile about. 

"Ssssshhh!" whispered Vanno as they came to 
a turn in the road where a dense thicket grew. 
"There should be wood snipe in those bushes." 

"Find a good stone to throw in the shrubbery," 
said Vanno, taking the cover from the hawk. The 
bird eased his white-breasted form and wriggled 
his long toes on the wrist that held him. 

"Look!" cried Gogi. "He knows that some- 
thing is about to happen." 

The bird's head was still covered with a little 
hood of black velvet and it could, of course, see 



196 NOAH^S GRANDCHILDREN 

nothing, but freedom of the cover told him that 
the fun was about to start. As a further signal 
Vanno stroked the velvet hood as though he were 
about to take it off also. The hawk poised and bal- 
anced on his wrist. 

"Throw the stone when I snatch the hood off," 
ordered Vanno. 

Gogi watched the smith's son closely. Vanno 
approached the brush with stealthy step and 
gazed into its tangled depths. Apparently satis- 
fied that it contained birds, he made a warning 
motion to Gogi and sUpped the velvet hood from 
the head of his falcon. Gogi cast his stone. 

The hawk rose straight from his master's wrist, 
and as the stone crashed into the thicket there 
came an answering rustle and a brace of wood 
snipe fluttered up into the open air above the 
bushes. Almost without a waver the little hawk 
launched his powerful body after the two birds. 
His strong wings thrashed back and forth and 
like a streak of black lightning he struck. 

The unfortunate snipe uttered a faint squeak 
of pain or fear, a handful of feathers flew from 
its body like a little flurry of snow, and the hawk 
settled to the ground with his capture a score of 
paces beyond the thicket. 



HAWKING 197 

"Come!" cried Vanno excitedly. "A kill — a 
kill! Hassan has got his quarry!" 

Gogi was equally stirred and ran with all his 
might to keep abreast of his older companion. 
When the two boys came up the hawk was about 
to begin his feast on the dead wood snipe. 

Vanno stepped swiftly to the side of his falcon 
and grasped the kill with his gloved hand. The 
sharp talons of the hawk still held the bird in their 
clutches and his yellow legs stuck up from be- 
tween Vanno's leather-covered fingers. The hawk, 
looking down, could not see his prey, since it was 
hidden under the glove, but what he did see was 
a tiny chunk of raw meat which Vanno proffered 
in his free hand. The hawk accepted the morsel 
of flesh and settled himself again on Vanno's 
wrist. As he swallowed his reward Vanno sUpped 
the httle velvet hood back onto his sharp, hook- 
beaked head. The falcon was satisfied and Vanno 
had the bird, which he slung at his back by pull- 
ing its head under the strap of his tightly belted 
red blouse. 

It all happened so swiftly that Gogi was not 
quite sure that it had really happened, but the 
proof hung at Vanno's belt. "Vasha!" he shouted. 
"This is prime sport!" 



198 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"It is called the sport of kings," said Vanno. 

"A kingly sport, indeed," agreed Gogi. "Let 
us go farther." 

A second bird was caught, and a third. Once 
when the hawk was released no birds flew from 
the thicket into which Gogi had cast his stone. 

"Vai-mi!" said Vanno disgustedly, "that is 
bad. It is not good to fool the hawk. A few slips 
like that one and he will lose his eagerness. We 
must be careful." 

"You had trouble getting him back onto your 
wrist, too," noticed Gogi. 

When the two boys arrived at the house of the 
priest in Ozerget they had collected half a dozen 
birds. Vanno's belt was filled with the game and 
the hawk's craw was so stuffed with his gifts of 
raw meat that he looked like a pouter pigeon. 

The old priest was delighted to see the boys, 
for he was very anxious to have the church grille 
fixed, and the brace of wood snipe which Vanno 
gave to him from the string at his belt made them 
doubly welcome, for priests do not always have 
too much to eat in their houses. 

With his skillful hands, Vanno made short 
work of the broken grille. A rivet here and a rivet 



HAWKING 199 

there soon made it as sound and strong as ever, 
and the boys went into the priest's tiny house to 
eat a meal with the old man and gather news 
for the folks at home. 

The priest's house was much the same as any 
other, Gogi noticed, excepting, perhaps, that the 
rooms contained a few more holy pictures or 
icons in the corners. At home without his golden 
vestments the priest did not seem so terrifying 
to Gogi as he did on ceremonial days in the church. 
At home he was just a smiling, kindly old man 
who knew how to talk with them about their crops 
of corn and their bees and their silk or tobacco. 

His face was rather sad, perhaps because he 
had heard the troubles of so many unfortunate 
people. Or perhaps it was because he was lonely. 
The priest's wife was dead and he had no children 
of his own. A priest of the Georgian Orthodox 
Church marries before he enters the church, and 
if his wife dies later he is not allowed to marry 
again. There is a saying in Georgia: "There is 
another of everything but a priest's wife." 

In the afternoon Vanno and Gogi set out on 
their homeward trip. The sun was in their eyes 
as they traveled, and since they had no time to 



200 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

circle each clump of trees, they were unable to 
hunt the falcon. 

"It is a pity," worried Vanno, "that we have 
not a few more birds. Four wood snipe will not 
make much of a meal for a family." 

Gogi did not answer Vanno. His shorter legs 
had caused him to be always a little behind his 
older companion so that the poor disheveled bodies 
of the four dead birds had been before his eyes 
much of the time. Gogi wondered if it was such 
a kingly sport after all. He thought of all the 
hawks that soared free and unhooded in the air 
and wondered how many birds they slaughtered 
each day. Song birds, too, they would kill. To 
them it made no difference — ^just another bloody 
feed. Gogi began to be ashamed of himself for his 
share in the morning's hunt. 

At dusk the pair reached Gogi's home and they 
stood a while at the gate. Vanno seemed to wish 
to say something and Gogi was still thinking of 
the poor dead birds. 

At last Vanno said, "Here, take Hassan on 
your hand. He is yours if you wish him." 

When Gogi got over his surprise, his first 
thought was to tell Vanno that he did not want 
the falcon. 



HAWKING 201 

**But/' thought he, "that will only offend 
Vanno, who, after all, is only trying his best to 
please me." 

Aloud he said, "I thank you, Vanno-heart. I 
shall look after him well. And I shall never for- 
get our morning's hunt together." 

Having said what he had tried so long to say, 
Vanno turned to leave. In parting he warned 
Gogi, "Give Hassan always raw meat to eat or 
he will lose his taste for fresh kills. Let him have 
the head or foot of a bird sometimes as I did this 
morning. And take him hunting as often as you 
are able. That will keep him in good training. . . . 
Good-bye." 

"A good road to you, Vanno-heart, and thank 
you again," cried Gogi after the vanishing form 
of the blacksmith's son. But as he entered his own 
yard he looked at his hooded gift almost as 
though he hated it. 

Gogi fastened the falcon to a post of the porch 
by a long string that gave him room to fly out 
in quite a big circle for exercise. He slipped the 
hood from the sleek head with its button eyes and 
wicked beak and said, before leaving him, "You 
have killed your last bird, Hassan. But in return 
you will never have to wear a hood again. You 



m^ NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

will always see the bright sunlight. I would turn 
you loose, but you would only do harm." 

The bird gazed at a passing chicken with a 
searching eye that made Gogi add, "And you 
shall eat boiled beans and corn bread in the 
future." 




XIX 

Departure for Tiflis 



A 



S THE summer waned in Guria the grapes 
grew full and heavy on their parent vines and 
the corn tops yellowed. The saffron blossoms 
blazed in their wonderful color from the drying 
stems of their already leafless stalks. Wine press 
and treading trough of hollow log had been thor- 
oughly scoured, the marannt had been opened 
and the empty tchanis washed and smoked with 
burning sulphur to kill the germs that sour the 
wine. Harvest time was at hand. 



^04 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

A neighbor returning from Batum had 
brought with him a letter to Vasso from the natlia 
in the city. The family had finished their frugal 
meal of corn bread and red beans boiled with 
dried sour plums, and Vasso prepared to read 
the letter by the light of a splinter which Keto 
had lighted in the open fire of the log kitchen 
and now held aloft. All awaited with interest to 
hear what the natlia had to say. The neighbor 
who had brought the letter had eaten with Vasso 
and his family and now he lingered so that he, 
too, might learn what news it was that the natlia 
sent. 

"The natlia sends news, indeed," said Vasso, 
spelling the words out letter by letter, for Vasso 
had had but little schooling. The Russians who 
conquered the Caucasus and Georgia did not care 
for their subjects learning a deal. They built few 
schools, and in those that they built they did not 
permit the children to learn their own Georgian 
tongue. What Vasso knew of his own letters he 
had learned from his mother and the village 
priest. For a hundred years mothers and priests 
had saved the rich tongue of the Karthli from 
being lost forever. 

Vasso continued, "The natlia writes that he is 



DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 205 

about to move his business from Batum to Tiflis. 
Now that we have driven off our oppressors Tiflis 
has become a busy city. The natlia is a wise man 
and he knows what is best." 

Gogi, who had awaited his father's reading 
of the letter with a smile of pleased expectancy 
on his young face, could keep silent no longer. 
Tears came into his eyes and his voice shook a 
little as he interrupted his father. Keto looked 
at her brother and felt very sorry for him. She 
knew what he was going to ask before he spoke. 

"Then," said Gogi, "I cannot go to hve with 
the natlia in his house and study in the school." 

To Gogi the world seemed suddenly upside 
down, and only by winking his eyes very fast 
could he keep the tears back while he waited for 
his father to spell out the next words. Nina looked 
at him with sad brown eyes and Keto reached 
out and touched his hand. Gogi knew that they 
understood but that only made him feel all the 
more like crying. 

The natlia must surely have known how his 
news would affect Gogi, for in the very next line 
he hurried to do away with his fears. Vasso raised 
his gaze from the sheet of paper to give his family 
the news that followed. 



206 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"The good natlia says," he continued, "that 
Gogi must not worry about the change, for the 
schools of Tiflis are even better than those of 
Batum." 

The natlia wrote much more of this and that 
but Gogi no longer barkened to his father's voice 
as he droned out the words one by one. In a 
moment all his dreams of school had been shifted 
to Tiflis — Tiflis which the natlia and others who 
had traveled called the Paris of the East. Tiflis, 
where the iron road, driven by electricity, rattled 
up and down the very streets of the city! 

"Perhaps," thought Gogi happily, "I shall see 
Tchuenni Noah!" He meant Noah Jordani, the 
president of the Georgian Republic — that kindly 
old man who had delivered his countrymen from 
Russian tyranny and was known to them only 
as Tchuenni Noah — Our Noah. If a few tears 
still trembled on Gogi's long black lashes, they 
were no longer tears of disappointment, but of 
gladness. Keto edged closer to her brother. 

"Oh, Gogi," she cried, "you will live in Tiflis 
and eat white bread at the natlia' s table every 
day! Will you have a blue uniform with shining 
silver buttons such as the schoolboys whom we 
saw in Batum wear?" 



DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 207 

"Of course," said Gogi, his eyes shining like 
the buttons his sister spoke of. "And shoes that 
shine, too, and are held with little strings on hooks 
or else with white buttons; and a stiff cap with 
a polished peak and a badge of silver leaves with 
the letters 'T.M.G.' which stand for Tiflis Boys' 
High School." 

"The cap and the uniform will be nice," agreed 
Keto, "but the shoes such as they wear in the city 
are not for the hill people of Guria." 

"The bad comes with the good," her brother 
reminded her. "I shall grow used to the shoes. 
Clothes cannot make city men of hill people." 

"That is true," Keto said. "Uncle Kola has 
worn the shoes of the city for many years, but 
he does not forget that he is a Gurian of the hills." 

"I shall be like Uncle Kola and the natlia/' 
Gogi promised. "When I come home I shall take 
off my straight trousers and wear my baggy, 
roomy sharavari, and when we climb together or 
chase pigs I shall put on my rawhide tchouvaki 
instead of city shoes." 

"They say that Tchuenni Noah, himself, wears 
sharavari and tchouvaki when he visits his home 
in Lantchout," said Keto. 



208 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

^'Tchuenni Noah never forgets that he is a 
Gurian," replied Gogi. "That is why we all love 
him. He is a great man." 

The time passed in happy planning between 
tasks of gathering the ripened corn and the leath- 
ery pods of beans whose vines twined about the 
tall cornstalks that took the place of bean poles. 
It was the best time of the year in Guria, and as 
the day for departure drew near Gogi found him- 
self sorry to leave it all. He wondered who would 
climb the trees with Vasso to gather the grapes 
. . . who would creep out on the farthermost 
branches that were too small to hold his father. 
He asked his father about the smaller branches. 

"It will be hard without you, Gogi-heart," said 
Vasso. "I am afraid that many bunches of grapes 
will have to rot on the vines this year." 

"Perhaps I might come home at the time of 
the picking of the grapes," suggested Gogi. 

"School is of more importance than a few 
grapes," answered his father. "We shall manage. 
I shall make a knife on the end of a long stick 
that will reach out to the bunches on the slender 
branches. Mother-Nina and Keto will stand be- 
neath the tree with a sheet and catch the grapes 
as I cut them down." 



DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 209 

"Why don't our Gurian grapes grow on bushes 
like those in the other parts of Georgia — like the 
grapes in Sveria?" sighed Gogi. 

"Many years ago our grapes did grow close to 
the ground," said Vasso. "That was before our 
people fell under the Moslems. The Moslems 
caused our grapes to become like they are." 

"What did the Moslems do to our grapes?" 
asked Keto. 

"They did nothing," answered her father. 
"That is what caused them to climb the trees. 
Moslems are forbidden by their law to make or 
drink wine, so they did not train or care for the 
grapevines, which soon ran wild and climbed the 
trees. Grapevines in Sveria are clipped close 
each year." 

"But when the Moslems were driven out," 
asked Gogi, "why did our people not plant other 
grapes or trim the wild ones?" 

"That is because," explained Vasso, "our 
people found that the wild grape gave a new kind 
of wine — a wine better than the old grapes. 
Gurian wine is prized very highly by those who 
know it." 

"Then the Moslems did some good, after all," 
said Gogi, 



210 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"That is a poor return for the harm that they 
did us, Gogi-heart," Vasso responded. 

"The law of the Moslem says he must not eat 
pork," said Gogi. "Why did they not kill all the 
pigs in Guria while they were here?" 

"A Moslem despises a pig so much he will not 
even kill it unless it is actually doing him some 
harm," explained Vasso. "The pigs ran wild like 
the grapevines." 

"Is that why we have so many wild pigs in 
Guria?" asked Gogi. 

"That is why," answered his father. "And that 
is why the pigs that we keep at home are so much 
like the wild ones — ^big heads and little bodies 
and long tusks and tails." 

Gogi remembered the natlia's letter. "Is it 
true," he asked, "that the natlia is coming in the 
autumn to hunt the wild pigs?" 

"That is his wish," said Vasso. "It has been 
many years since the wild pigs came so near to 
the houses and villages." 

Gogi's heart was lightened by the thought that 
he would soon be able to visit the home folks, and 
when the day came for his departure for the city of 
Tiflis and the natlia' s house good-byes were easier 
to say. 



DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 211 

His baggage was small — underclothes and 
woolen socks which Keto and his mother, Nina, 
had woven for him — for his country breeches 
would be sadly out of place in the city. The 
natlia would soon have a fine blue uniform for 
him and all that went with it — shoes and shirt 
and visored cap of blue with a silver badge. 

At last everything was ready and the day had 
arrived. The cart awaited Gogi at the gate of 
the yard and father Vasso stood in the door of 
the kitchen to hurry the women. Nina gave one 
last tug at the huge knot that tied the four cor- 
ners of the piece of cloth in which her son's things 
were wrapped. With the back of her work-worn 
hand she wiped from her brown eyes something 
that looked very much like a tear. Keto was cry- 
ing openly. A big lump came into Gogi's throat 
when he saw their tears, and for the moment he 
wished that he were not a boy so that he might 
cry, too. Nina took a seat with Keto on the kitchen 
bench. Vasso sat on the door seat and Gogi, tak- 
ing his bundle in his lap, sat beside him. Nina and 
Vasso folded their hands in their laps and sat 
silently gazing on the earthen floor at their feet. 
Keto and Gogi folded their hands in imitation. 
They knew that this was the way that Godspeed 



in NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

was given a traveler about to set out on a long 
journey. 

For a full minute the four sat in this manner. 
They spoke not a single word and the stillness 
was broken only by the sobs that sister Keto 
could not choke back. To Gogi the minute seemed 
like an hour, for he was dreadfully frightened 
that he would cry, himself, if he were not soon 
on his way. Nina arose and gave Gogi a last big 
hug before she let him turn to the waiting cart. 
Vasso turned away from his weeping wife and 
daughter and pulled very hard at his long, silky- 
black mustachios. 

Gogi scarcely understood his mother's fare- 
wells. He heard her say, "God bless you, Gogi- 
heart. . . . A good road. . . . May your troubles 
be on my head," and somehow he found himself 
sitting in the rocking cart, his bundle grasped in 
his arms, and his cheeks still wet with the tears 
from his mother's eyes. Vasso spoke but Uttle and 
Gogi did not feel like talking. 

At the station of Natonebi Vasso bought the 
ticket to Tiflis and he and Gogi stood on the 
little station platform and watched for the train. 
People passed and bowed to Vasso, touching their 
foreheads with the tips of their fingers. Some who 



DEPARTURE FOR TIFLIS 213 

knew him better stopped for a minute to ask 
whither he traveled. 

To such questions Vasso would reply proudly, 
"I go on no road. It is my son whom you see here 
— ^he goes to the city of Tiflis for study in the 
school there." 

Then the men would slap Gogi on the shoulder 
and say, "Life to you, Vasso's son. May your 
troubles be few!" And to Vasso they would say, 
"Surely you are a proud Gurian who sends a son 
to the city. There will be much news to be heard 
under your roof when your son is home again." 

To these hints Vasso would answer, "My roof 
is your roof. My bread and salt is your bread and 
salt. Come and the news shall be yours also." 

The train came and Gogi climbed into the tiny, 
toylike coach and, opening a window, took his 
bundle from the hands of Vasso. The gong on 
the station rang two bells for "make ready" and 
three for "go"; the engine ahead gave a sharp 
toot of the whistle and the little station began to 
slip behind. The locomotive puffed sturdily to 
start the long string of cars, a few of them pas- 
senger coaches, but most of them freight. Clouds 
of cinders shot up from the engine stack and then 
wind whipped them stingingly against Gogi's 



214 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

cheek as he thrust his bare head through the 
window to get a last glimpse of his father. 

At the side of the little station Gogi saw the 
cart with the two sleepy buffaloes. The yoke had 
slipped onto the animal's black horns and their 
great square heads with jaws chewing their cuds 
were lowered almost to the ground. Vasso stood 
still on the station platform pulhng his long black 
mustachios. As Gogi watched, his father groped 
in the deep pocket of his baggy pants, pulled out 
a ragged square of white linen, and blew his nose. 
The whistle blew and the train hid itself in a deep 
cut between the hills. The old familiar scene and 
his father's form were lost to sight beyond a curve 
of the track, but Tiflis lay before. 




XX 

School 



L-^IFE in Tiflis, during the day, was far too 
exciting to let Gogi feel lonesome. Only at night 
when he lay alone in the little room which the 
natlia had set aside for his use did he suffer from 
homesickness. The thick feather mattress, soft as 
down, seemed to Gogi ten times harder than the 
felt pad on his rude tdkhta at home. The quiet 

215 



216 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

of the sleeping city was not like the quiet of the 
Gurian night. There was no chuckling murmur 
from the little brook that flowed beside the log 
kitchen at home, and no sound of barking in the 
darkness as when old Pasha warned away some 
four-legged thief that came too near the hen 
house or kitchen larder. But the lonesomeness 
of each night was soon forgotten in the adventures 
of each day that followed. 

Many visits were paid to the tailor shop in the 
bazaar quarter of the city beyond the yellow river 
Kura. One after another and row on row the tailor 
shops stood side by side, for in Tiflis all shops of 
a kind are close together. Gogi could always tell 
a tailor shop because there were always several 
huge tailors' "gooses," as their heavy irons are 
called, standing before the door with their handles 
and tops shoved to one side so that the charcoal 
with which they were newly filled might burn 
up in the open air of the street. The natlia ex- 
plained that the irons, if brought in before the 
coal was glowing red, would give oflf gas and 
make the heads of the tailors ache so that they 
could not work. 

The shop where the natlia had ordered Gogi's 
uniform was owned by an Armenian — most of 



SCHOOL 217 

the tailors were Armenians — and it was so dark 
and dingy that he wondered how anyone could 
possibly work in such a hole. Working they were, 
for all that. As Gogi's eyes became accustomed 
to the murk he saw that the room was almost 
filled with huge broad tables. On each table sat 
a tailor, and sometimes two. Every man had his 
feet drawn closely under him and was stooped 
low over some garment on which he sewed busily. 
Over every neck hung a little hank of thread 
cut the right length and all ready to be slipped 
into the needles when needed. One man as Gogi 
watched spread the coat he was sewing over a 
little padded, coffin-shaped box and covered it 
with a fragment of thick canvas. He then took 
a big swig of water from an earthen jug that 
stood on the table besidle him and spluttered 
the water from his mouth over the canvas. Next 
he rubbed the whole with a tiny chunk of soap 
and began to iron it with a "goose" which an 
errand boy fetched on his call. Great clouds of 
damp steam came hissing from beneath the hot 
iron, and as they were wafted to Gogi's nostrils 
he recognized what it was that gave the shop the 
strange odor which he had noticed when he first 
entered. 



218 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

On their first visit they were welcomed to the 
shop by the Armenian owner. He sat always on 
the table nearest the door, from which he jumped 
as soon as ever a customer entered. He, too, car- 
ried the hank of thread around his fat neck, but 
besides the thread he had also a measuring tape. 
His sly gaze took in his new customers at once, 
and when Gogi and the natlia arrived he guessed 
straightway, "A city godfather comes with his 
country godchild to prepare him for the city 
school." It was not the first time he had seen such 
a pair, and he rubbed his hands in pleasant ex- 
pectation, for he knew that it meant at least a 
uniform and a long greatcoat. "Welcome, Lord- 
heart, welcome," said he. *'You are fortunate in 
finding me, for I am the best tailor in Tiflis." 

This bragging seemed very impohte to Gogi 
but the natlia only smiled good-naturedly, for he 
knew that it was the custom of aU Armenian 
tradesmen. He had done business with their sly 
kind before. 

The master tailor pulled bolts of fine cloth 
from broad shelves that were built in beneath 
the tables and unrolled them so that Gogi and 
the natlia might make their choice of shade and 
texture. All the time he kept up a chatter — what 



SCHOOL 219 

a fine tailor he was — what fine goods he sold — 
how cheap his prices were. If the natlia heard he 
showed no sign of it. He felt one piece of cloth 
and another, rubbed them between finger and 
thumb, held them to the light, smelled them, and 
even tried one or two with a match flame to see 
if they were pure wool as the man claimed. At 
last he chose a piece and then began the haggle 
with the tailor about the price. That in turn was 
settled and the tailor began his measurements. 

"Hold up your arms, Lord-heart," aid the 
tailor to Gogi. Gogi held his hands over his head. 

The tailor took the measuring tape from his 
neck and began to swing it about Gogi's erect 
body. The tape was weighted on one end with a 
brass ring and in the tailor's hands it seemed al- 
most alive. It writhed and twisted hke a slender 
snake — around his waist, aroimd his chest, down 
his back, down his leg, and across his shoulders. 
The tailor carefully checked oflp each length with 
his broad thumb and shouted the figure to an 
assistant, who jotted them down with a piece of 
hard soap on the bolt of blue cloth which the natlia 
had chosen for the uniform. 

Gogi was glad when he was allowed to drop 
his tired arms, slip on his discarded peasant 



no NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

jacket, and get out of the stuffy shop into the 
sweeter air of the street. The natlia, too, took a 
deep breath as though he were equally glad. The 
tailor bowed them out, and as they left murmured 
something about a fitting in two days. 

"And now for a cap," said the natlia, taking 
Gogi by the arm and leading farther along the 
narrow street. "The hatters are just beyond and 
hats are ready made. In five minutes you shall 
wear the badge of your school." 

A score of paces brought Gogi and the natlia 
to the first of the hatters. A huge cap made of 
tin and painted in true colors hung before the 
door, but without this Gogi would have known 
that it was the shop of a hatter. On a row of little 
sticks behind the dingy glass of the window were 
draped dozens of curly lambskins — lambskins 
from which are made pappakas, the round fur hats 
of the Caucasus. Badges, too, of all sorts and 
shapes were displayed on cardboards that leaned 
against the glass. 

Many things were in the make-up of the dif- 
ferent badges — Shammer and tongs, hammer and 
wrench, squares, anchors, and compasses — for 
every trade and profession is represented by some 
emblem. Two snakes coiled about a staff with 



SCHOOL 221 

wings was the badge of a feldscher, a doctor's 
assistant. The hammer and monkey wrench, or 
American wrench as it was called, Gogi had re- 
membered seeing in the velvet band of the caps 
which engineers wore. The engineers had come 
to Ozerget when there had been talk of building 
a branch of the iron road from Natonebi. They 
had looked at one another through long brass 
pipes that stood on three legs; they had waved 
their arms and shouted and driven dozens of tiny 
wooden pegs into the earth and left. The tiny 
pegs had had tiny scraps of red cloth tied to them 
like flags, and the engineers had worn fine caps 
with badges such as he now saw in the window 
of the hatter. 

"Perhaps," thought Gogi, "I shall be an en- 
gineer and build tracks for the iron road." And 
in dreaming of this he forgot that he had not dis- 
covered his own badge until when the natlia called 
to him from the open door of the shop. 

The hatters, Uke the tailors, also sat on their 
tables, but the tables were smaller, as were the 
irons. Some of them sat before sewing ma- 
chines so tiny that they were almost hidden 
beneath their huge spools of thread. All about 
were round blocks of wood. These were the blocks 



222 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

upon which the finished hats and caps were ironed 
and shaped and left to dry. 

Stack on stack and row on row in shelves he- 
hind the master's sewing table stood the finished 
caps. Some were made with bands of green velvet 
and some with blue; some were piped with red, 
some with black, and some with yellow, for colors 
had a meaning as well as badges. They showed 
the wearers' trades and ranks. The owner took 
down one of these stacks and passed cap after 
cap to Gogi until he found one that fitted him 
well. At the top of the stack were the smaller 
sizes and the larger were at the bottom. This 
saved the trouble of numbering them. 

School caps are worn rather small, and Gogi 
stepped before a cracked looking-glass and won- 
dered at the change his cap made in his face. It 
seemed to him that his face had suddenly grown 
very round and fat beneath the little blue 
velvet cap perched on the crown of his close- 
cropped head. There was something strange about 
the cap that Gogi wore, something rather amiss. 
And then Gogi saw. 

"It has no badge!" he exclaimed. 

"So it hasn't," agreed the natlia, and at a nod 
from him the shopkeeper hastened to the window 



SCHOOL ns 

and returned with a card full of silver badges 
from which he chose the right one and affixed it 
to the front of Gogi's cap. 

^^Ba lamaziar cried the pleased Gogi. "How 
pretty!" And settling the new cap firmly onto 
his head with the shiny little visor bent in close 
against his forehead, he followed the natlia from 
the shop. 

"Now you are a schoolfellow," said the natlia. 
"All shall know you by your cap and badge." 

"There will be no better cap in all the school, 
I am sure," said Gogi proudly. "Thank you, 
natlia-hesLTt, thank you!" 

"You are welcome, Gogi-heart," replied the 
natlia, and then he chuckled to himself. "But I 
fear that it will not be the finest cap in the school. 
You are going to be disappointed, Gogi-heart." 

"Surely it was the best cap in the shop of the 
hatter," said Gogi with some surprise. "It was 
the dearest of them all." 

The natUa laughed again. "Caps in school are 
not judged by their cost," he explained. "At the 
school, you will find, the best caps are the oldest 
caps. The older a cap — ^that is, the longer the 
owner has worn it — the more it is prized. Students 
buy new coats and capes and great coats as often 



224 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

as they can, but new caps — ^never. In school a 
good cap is an old cap." 

Gogi was none the less thankful on hearing 
this. He knew that it took a good cap to last to 
be an old cap and his was surely good as he still 
judged it. Gogi wondered at the queer ways of 
the students as he paced beside the natlia. 

For shoes, the natlia took Gogi to his own cob- 
bler. The cobbler made shoes only to measure and 
order, but as luck had it he was left with a pair 
which had been a mite too small for another cus- 
tomer but which fitted Gogi exactly. He slipped 
off his worn rawhide tchouvaki and tried the 
shoes. 

"A good fit," said the natlia, thumbing them 
on his godson's feet. "Now you are a student, top 
and bottom, at least!" 

Gogi took a few steps to see how it was to walk 
in shoes. They seemed very heavy, and try as 
he would the heels dragged on the ground. He 
had never walked on any heels but his own be- 
fore. His many-colored, tasseled socks, into which 
his bagged breeches were tucked, looked strange 
above the black polished shoes. He pulled the legs 
of his breeches from his sock tops and let them fall 
down over the shoe tops 



SCHOOL ns 

As Gogi followed the natlia homeward his feet 
began to ache and burn. He thought his socks 
were falling down; there was nothing to hold 
them up now that he had discarded his tchouvaki 
with their long leather thongs that had bound his 
legs from ankle to knee. His breeches legs, no 
longer held snugly to the calves of his legs, flopped 
about as he walked and felt very loose and un- 
comfortable. 

Gogi was glad when the evening meal at the 
natlia s house was eaten and he was free to go 
to the little room which he had been told to call 
his own. He picked up his new cap from the bed 
where he had carefully laid it; he blew upon the 
badge and shiny black visor and polished them 
on the rough sleeve of his jacket. They were very 
fine indeed. He sat down on the bed and unlaced 
his new shoes. His toes were numb and the soles 
of his feet burned like fire. His heels hurt, too, 
and when he had stripped off his heavy socks he 
saw that there was a flaming red spot on either 
heel. 

'^Blisters," said Gogi, and touched the tender 
places with a surprised finger. Not a stone in all 
the mountains of Guria was hard enough to bruise 
one of his horny, thick-skinned heels, but one short 



226 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

walk on city streets in city shoes had raised two 
huge blisters. 

**When you live with wolves you must howl 
life a wolf," said Gogi to himself, meaning "When 
in Rome, be a Roman!" Others wore such shoes 
and wear them he must. Shucking off his clothes, 
he crawled into bed and blew out the candle that 
stood at its head. Through the window of his room 
the moon shone faintly and the silver cap badge 
caught a ray and sent it flashing back to Gogi 
from the bedpost where himg his scholar's cap. 
That night Gogi was not so lonely, and despite 
his aching feet, or perhaps because of them, he 
was soon asleep. 




XXI 



Gogi Meets a Stranger 



OGI was glad that his natlia was a wealthy 
man— that is to say, sujSSciently wealthy to buy a 
pupil's uniform for his godson. The first lesson 
that Gogi learned in school was not taught him 
by the teachers but by the boys themselves. He 
learned that the worst thing that could happen 
to a pupil in the big city school was to be differ- 
ent from the other boys. Other boys had been less 



^28 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

fortunate than Gogi, or poorer, and came to school 
in their country costumes of homespun brown and 
with their feet shod in rawhide sandals. Many 
boys were cruel enough to make sport of these 
country pupils, and when Gogi took the part of 
one of them he discovered that his city clothes 
had not changed him altogether. 

^'Guriani, Guriani — ^A Gurian!" the boys 
shouted, for they had discovered his home and 
tribe in his manner of speech. The Gurians al- 
ways speak very rapidly and sometimes they give 
a twist to their words that is strange to city ears — 
especially in Tiflis. In his anger for the mean ac- 
tions Gogi had spoken even faster — so rapidly, in 
fact, that many of his hearers had not even under- 
stood all that he had said. Enough that they under- 
stood him to be a Gurian and a country boy. Fin- 
gers were pointed at him and words were shouted 
in his ear with the strange twist given them by the 
Guriani and thought to be funny in the city. 

Gogi glanced about at the grinning circle of 
faces. They reminded him of jackals. He told 
them so. 

"Jackals, jackals!" said he, and this time he 
took care to speak slowly so that everyone under- 
stood. 



GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 229 

One of the jeering boys stepped closer to Gogi. 
He was taller than the rest and dark. He looked 
like an Armenian. Afterward Gogi learned that 
he was an Armenian. 

"I'll teach you how to talk, Guriani" said the 
tall boy, and knocked Gogi's new cap from his 
head. 

In a moment Gogi forgot what the nailia had 
told him — to take such talk as a joke. Gogi lost 
his temper. He grappled the bully, and before the 
crowd knew what was happening the big fellow 
lay howling on the ground. It was a wrestler's 
trick that Gogi had learned from Vanno, the son 
of Grigo the smith — Vanno, the best wrestler in 
western Guria. 

^'Vasha, Guriani — Hurrah for the Gurian," 
cried an admiring voice from the crowd. Soon all 
were shouting, ''Vasha, Gurianir That is, all 
but the big boy who took the tumble ; he was glad 
to get away unnoticed. 

"We are friends," said one boy with a smihng 
face, as he embraced the still angry Gogi. "We 
are friends if you will be friends with jackals. 
It is only jackals, after all, that scream and howl, 
but are afraid to fight." 

Gogi glanced around the circle of faces again. 



230 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

This time they seemed more friendly. In many 
eyes he saw admiration for his feat of fine wrest- 
hng. They were not such a bad lot after all. 

'^'Khargir said Gogi. "Good, we are friends." 

So began Gogi's first day in the city school at 
Tiflis. 

In the schoolrooms there were many things that 
made for wonder and admiration: shiny desks 
with seats that tilted up when one wished to stand; 
a great clock — Gogi had never seen a bigger one 
out of a church steeple — ^which hung on the wall; 
most wonderful of all the huge *'stone boards," 
as Gogi called the slate slabs that formed the 
blackboards around the room. They were as big 
as a barn door, Gogi thought admiringly. How 
small seemed his own little slate in its rude wooden 
frame which Vasso had whittled for him — ^the 
little slate which the city teacher told him he would 
need no longer. In the city school they wrote on 
paper; paper was far too scarce to use for simple 
practice in the old priest's odd classes which Gogi 
had attended. Paper was for letters. 

How still it seemed in the classroom when the 
pupils were studying! No one spoke. The classes 
of the old priest had differed in this, too. There 
everyone had mumbled the words of his lesson 



GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 231 

aloud as he studied. The little room behind the 
village church had sounded like a big hive of 
busy bees. Gogi, in spite of himself, began mum- 
bling aloud from his book in the old way, but 
he soon heard a warning "Tsssst!" This was the 
teacher, and as Gogi glanced up he saw the teacher 
shaking his ruler at him and frowning angrily. 
The ruler was long and round and heavy. Gogi 
had heard from the older pupils that the teachers 
sometimes used such rulers to whip erring boys : 
to strike the palms of their hands for punish- 
ment. After that Gogi was careful to keep silent 
as he studied, although he had to bite hard on his 
lip to do it. 

Gogi missed the girls, too. Only boys attended 
this school; the girls went to one of their own 
where there were no boys. To make matters worse, 
the teacher called him Georgi, Son of Vasso ; Gogi 
— the name to which he had answered all his life 
— was a pet name. Gogi understood that they 
were all thought to be young men and too old for 
pet names, but he still loved his and the new 
way of calling him seemed strange and unfriendly 
after that other homely, familiar sound. 

The teacher was a man, and he looked very 
young to Gogi in spite of the little black, spiked 



232 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

beard that grew on his chin. Gogi even wondered 
if so young a man could know as much as the 
aged priest who had taught him his first letters 
and words. Doubtless not, for after a while the 
teacher left the room and for a whole hour his 
place was taken by a priest in long black robes 
who prayed for a space and then settled himself 
to hear their catechism. He was not so kindly as 
the country priest and spoke very sharply to those 
who faltered in their recitation. 

When they had said their catechism the priest 
lingered to tell the class something more. "You 
have all learned to read and write," said he, "but 
the writing which you all know is the sort which 
is called the soldier's writing. Good St. Mesrop, 
who gave us the art of putting words on paper 
and stones, gave us two writings which are used 
by all learned Karthli: the soldier's writing, 
which you know, and the priest's writing, which 
you are all now to learn." 

Gogi had heard of this other writing and he 
was pleased that he was about to hear something 
more of it. The priest went on to explain. 

"St. Mesrop," said the priest, "gave a writ- 
ing to the Karthli and to the people of Hai-stan 
>vhom we call Armenians, and to each he gave 



GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 233 

their own, the letters being somewhat different 
for each. These letters are very beautiful and have 
many turns and twists, some being broad and 
black while others are very fine." 

There was silence in the classroom as the priest 
continued: "As you all know, there was never 
one, nor is there one, among all nations so war- 
like as our people of Karthli. We have always 
been fighting for the freedom which we love. On 
the battle field the soldier cannot take the time 
and care which is needed to form the beautiful 
letters of the 'priest's writing.' Therefore our 
soldiers began to leave out the little turns and 
twists, one by one, and in their desire for speed 
they let their letters run together in a way that 
tied one letter to another. That is how we came 
by our 'soldier's writing' which is now used by 
all. 

"The people of our country," continued the 
priest, "who put down the stories of our wars and 
of our tribes and their histories were the priests 
and writers. In this they took great pride, and 
since they also enjoyed the peace of their own 
homes away from the noise and bustle of battle 
and siege, they were able to take the care needed 
in using the 'priest's writing,' the beautiful let- 



g34 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

ters of which are much more fitting for such work 
as was theirs. The Armenians, who are a nation 
of traders and flee all war even at the cost of their 
liberty, have never changed their writing for one 
like our 'soldier's,' for their writing is done in the 
quiet of their shops and counting houses. 

"So,' 'said the priest, "he who would learn of 
the greatness of the KarthU and of their brave 
history must learn likewise the 'writing of the 
priest.' To such wonderful treasures these let- 
ters are the only keys." And turning to the broad 
slate at his back, the priest took a fragment of 
chalk in his fingers and deftly sketched the letters 
of the beautiful "writing of the priests." 

In the evenings after school Gogi Uked to saun- 
ter slowly along the great street that led toward 
the house of the natlia. The Street of the Castle it 
was called, for a great castle frowned down onto 
the street. Sometimes Gogi walked in the beau- 
tiful park that stretched beyond the castle itself. 
Once it had been the playground for the Rus- 
sians, who had ruled the Karthli with an iron hand, 
but now in these days of freedom it had been 
thrown open for all visitors. Children dashed and 
played about the lawns and walks where a few 
years before none but the highest Russian officers 



GOGI MEETS A STRANGER £35 

and the grandest Russian ladies had strolled — 
officers with brave uniforms and clanking spurs 
and fine ladies in fine clothes. Gogi did not worry 
a great deal about the Russian officers and fine 
ladies that had lost their playground — it had not 
really belonged to them at all — they had taken 
it away from the Karthli and had been forced 
to give it back. And now Gogi and his school 
friends played in its cool hiding places. 

Sometimes Gogi took the back road and fol- 
lowed the river Kura. On the far side of the stream 
were the baths. Their round domes lined the chff- 
like bank, and the hot sulphur water that trickled 
from the springs over which they were built spilled 
down the steep rocks, taking on many brilliant 
colors and forming long iciclelike spikes that hung 
in clusters and festoons from every stony shelf. 
\ Beyond the baths were the tanyard, the flat 
roofs of their low buildings crowded with racks 
and racks of drying hides. When Gogi saw brown 
icicles hanging over the river or yellow streaks of 
water flowing down the farther bank, he knew 
that the color came from the powdered oak bark 
used by the tanners in curing the leather. Still 
farther beyond arose the slim spearlike towers 
of the Moslem churches — metchedsj they were 



236 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

called. Each tower had a tiny door at its top that 
opened out onto a tiny railed platform that ran 
around it near the top. From there it was that the 
crier or muezzin called the Moslems to prayer. He 
called them so often that Gogi wondered how 
they ever found time to work. 

On rainy afternoons Gogi read. He had quickly 
mastered the ^'Priest's writing" and in the library 
of the natlia he found much to read: stories of 
Gurg-Arslan, the Wolf -Lion; of White Georgi, 
his namesake; and the wonderful tale of "The 
Man in the Tiger's Skin." With pride Gogi saw 
that the greatest of the writers also were Gurians, 
as were the greatest of soldiers. 

One day he saw a stooped old man limping 
along a path in the castle garden. He seemed 
very tired and worn and took a seat on the bench 
where Gogi had placed his books while he played 
at knucklebones with his friends in the cinder 
path. As Gogi played he saw that the old man 
had taken up one of his books and was scanning 
its pages with his spectacled old eyes. When Gogi 
had finished his game and was ready to go home 
he went to get his books. He gathered together all 
his books but one. That one the old man still held, 
although he did not seem to be reading it. The 



GOGI MEETS A STRANGER 237 

book lay open on his lap, but his eyes were closed 
as though he were sleeping. Gogi did not wish to 
disturb the old man, so he softly seated himself 
on the bench beside him, intending to wait until 
he awoke. 

The old man could scarcely have been sleeping 
for he heard Gogi, quietly as he had moved, and 
opening his eyes he smiled at the boy. 

"Health to you, uncle," said Gogi. "I am sorry 
if I awoke you." 

"Long hf e to you, son-of-my-heart," answered 
the old man. "You did not awake me. I was not 
sleeping; I was only dreaming." 

Gogi was ashamed to remind the old man that 
he still held his book, and the old man seemed to 
have forgotten. He still sat with the open book 
on his lap and looked away into space with tired 
eyes. When the old man at last remembered and 
returned the book to Gogi with an apology for 
keeping him waiting, Gogi asked if he had finished 
the story which he had been reading. 

"I know the story," rephed the old man. "I 
have read it many times, but to-day my eyes 
cannot see the letters of its words. I would have 
liked to read it once again." 

"I shall be glad to read it to you," said Gogi. 



238 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"I have read it many times, also, but I would 
like to read it again." 

''Then read it, and life to you, son-of-my- 
heart," answered the old man eagerly. "I can think 
of nothing that I would like better." 

The old man's tired eyes closed again as though 
he slept, but Gogi knew that he listened, so he 
began the story of "Surabo, the Boy-Hero of 
Suram." 




Ti 



XXII 

The Legend of Surdbo 



HIS is the story that Gogi read in the castle 
garden to the tired old man who sat beside him 
on the garden bench with eyes closed as though 
in sleep. 

The Tale of Surabo 

Through the mountainous heights of Suram 
which divide the East from the West of Georgia 
there is a single narrow, rocky passage. It is called 
the Pass of Suram. On a stony ledge above the 



240 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

Pass of Suram rot the ruins of a once-powerful 
stronghold from which the Karthli guarded the 
gates to the heart of their country. It is the Castle 
of Suram. It was the strength of ancient Georgia 
and the despair of all their enemies. 

During the reign of a fortunate and victorious 
King of Georgia the old castle, which had already 
stood many, many years, fell under an evil en- 
chantment. The strong stone wall that frowned 
down onto the Pass so terribly began to crumble 
and totter and fall, little by little, to the river and 
road below. 

This enchantment had been wrought by an evil 
old witch who lived in a cave near by. Once upon 
a time she had been the betrothed of the king 
himself, but finding out that she was as evil as she 
was beautiful, the king very wisely decided that 
she was imfit to be queen over his people and 
wed another. For this reason there was nothing 
too evil for this old witch to plan against the good 
king as a revenge. 

Time after time the wall was rebuilt, but as 
often as it was rebuilt it fell again. The king 
was in bitter despair. He knew not where to turn. 
The Persians might fall upon the kingdom at any 
moment and without the mighty castle to oppose 



THE LEGEND OF SURABO 241 

them they would soon conquer the entire country 
and make slaves of all the Georgians, as they had 
tried to do many times before. 

The best stone mason and the best bricklayers 
from all the kingdom were brought to Suram, 
but all their skill was used in vain. The new wall 
completed in the evening always lay in ruins the 
following morn. The king was at his wit's end 
when one of his nobles told him of an old witch 
who lived in a cave above the castle. 

"She is very wise," said the noble. "She has 
performed many strange miracles and if there 
is any help for us she is our only remaining hope." 

The king was willing to do anything to save 
his people from slavery to the Persians so he was 
dehghted to learn of the old witch from the noble. 
He did not guess that this was the same person 
who had cast the spell on the castle nor did he 
know that she had once been his old sweetheart 
whose love had turned to terrible hate when he 
wed another. 

"Go," said he to the noble who had spoken, 
"and bring this wise woman to the castle at once. 
She shall have all that she desires if she will only 
raise the spell from our castle so that the wall 
will cease to fall and crumble." 



242 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

The noble hastened to the dark cave where the 
old witch lived and gave to her the king's mes- 
sage. She put on her black shawl, and leaving 
a bowl of milk with corn bread for her cats, she 
clambered down the side of the mountain in the 
path of the returning noble. 

The king was awaiting her impatiently and 
when she arrived he admitted her iromediately. 
"I have been told that you are very wise," said 
the king to the witch, not recognizing her for what 
she was. 

''You have heard the truth," returned the witch 
in a sour voice. ''Why have you disturbed my 
peace?" 

"A great trouble has come upon us," said the 
king. "We are like to be conquered by the Per- 
sians and be sold into everlasting slavery." And 
he told her how the wall fell down as often as it 
was rebuilt in spite of all the skill of the best 
builders and stone masons. 

"That is a small matter which can soon be 
fixed," said the witch, when she had heard the 
tale of woe. 

The king was greatly delighted to hear these 
words, and his kindly face broke into happy smiles 
for the first time since misfortune had come upon 



THE LEGEND OF SURABO 243 

the castle above the pass. ''Life to you, mother- 
heart," cried he to the old witch. "But tell us what 
we must do to keep the wall from falling." 

The old witch cackled evilly. "That is, as I 
have said, very simple. You have but to find a 
young boy who has never done any wrong and 
who is willing that you plaster him up in the 
wall as you rebuild it. With his body in the stone 
wall the spell will be lifted from the castle and 
the wall will last forever and ever, though other 
walls rot and crumble to the dust from which they 
were made." 

The smile had left the king's face before the 
old woman had said many words, for the king 
was a man with a very tender heart and he could 
never do the awful thing which the old witch 
advised. He became very angry with the old crone 
and shouted to her to be gone at once. The witch 
was glad enough to go, and she did so with another 
evil cackle in the place of a farewell. 

The king and his court were again plunged into 
the deepest despair. They could not bring them- 
selves to do the terrible thing which would break 
the spell. They resigned themselves to their fate 
and were ready to retreat as soon as a messenger 
brought news of advancing foes. 



244 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

One morning a beautiful young boy stood at 
the gate of the castle and begged admittance to 
the throne of the king. "I have come," said he, 
"to save my country. Let the stone masons plaster 
me into the wall so that the spell may be broken 
and the castle be strong against the enemy." 

"We know you," said the nobles who had heard 
his plea. "You are Surabo, the son of the widow. 
Surely you have never done any evil and you 
are your mother's only son. Why, then, should 
we do evil by you? You are too young to die." 

"No man is too young to die for his country," 
said Surabo bravely. "Take me before our lord 
the king." 

The nobles saw that Surabo could not be dis- 
suaded, and after paying many compliments to 
his high courage, they took him before the king. 
The king listened to Surabo with tears in his eyes, 
for the price seemed too great to be paid. He, too, 
spoke as did the nobles who had first heard the 
tale. 

"You are too young to die." 

To the king Surabo answered as he had an- 
swered the nobles : "No man is too young to die 
for his country. It is better that I die alone than 
all our brave warriors fall in hopeless battle and 



THE LEGEND OF SURABO 245 

our women and children be taken as slaves into 
Iran, the land of the Persians." 

When the king heard these words he could 
not forbear weeping bitterly, and all the nobles 
who stood about his throne also wept with him. 
Surabo, alone, from all in the room did not weep. 
He stood straight and brave before the king's 
throne and repeated: "No man is too young to 
die for his country!" 

When the king saw that Surabo had set his 
heart on giving his young Uf e for his country and 
that he could not be dissuaded he agreed, although 
he greatly feared that the sacrifice would be in 
vain. He summoned the master mason and told 
him to gather stone and mix mortar and make 
all ready for building the wall once again. 

That evening the masons began the erection 
of the new wall. High on one smooth side they 
left a small opening, and into this niche stepped 
Surabo of his own accord. When Surabo had 
stepped into the niche of the wall the masons 
began to close the opening with brick and stone. 

Surabo's mother, the poor widow, stood with 
the people below, but she was so weighted with 
grief for her son that she could not watch the 
building of the wall that was to bury him alive. 



246 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

She knelt on the cobbles of the castle yard beside 
the king and prayed. All about them the nobles 
and other people also knelt and prayed. Only the 
masons worked and labored, stacking stone on 
stone and brick on brick. 

At last the weeping mother broke her prayer, 
for she could not bear to wait any longer, and 
cried out to her son: *'How high, Surabo-heart ? 
How high is the wall?" 

''To my knee, mother-heart, to my knee," an- 
swered Surabo. 

Again the people and the king and the mother 
wept and prayed until the mother again broke 
her prayer and asked: ''How high, son-of-my- 
heart? How high is the wall?" 

"To my waist, mother-heart, to my waist," an- 
swered Surabo. 

The mother and the people, on hearing the 
brave boy's answer, fell weeping still more bit- 
terly, until the mother again asked: "How high, 
son-of-my-soul? How high is the wall?" 
i "To my breast, mother-heart, to my breast," 
answered Surabo. 

A fourth time the mother ceased her weeping 
and praying to ask : "How high the wall, Surabo- 
soul? How high the wall?" 



THE LEGEND OF SURABO M7 

'*To my eyes, mother-heart. Farewell ! To my 
eyes. Farewell ..." 

When the people heard these words they wept 
even louder than before. The masons wept also 
and tears oozed from the very stones of the castle 
walls. 

Once more the mother cried out: "How high 
the wall, Surabo-heart, son-of-my-soul? How 
high the wall?" 

This time no answer came to the waiting throng 
and when they looked up they perceived that the 
stone masons had plastered in the last stone and 
were smoothing the face of the wall. Surabo had 
given his life to save his country and his people! 

The multitude wept with a voice that could be 
heard for miles and the king wept more bitterly 
than any other, but over the loud grief of them all 
came the high, sorrowful wail of the widowed 
mother of Surabo : 

''Fai-mi, Chemi Surabo, 

Vai-mi, chemi shviloT 
"Woe is me, my Surabo, 

Woe is me, my man-child!" 

The following morning when the Persians 
came to attack the pass the castle wall stood high 



MS NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

and strong against them and from his gates the 
King of Georgia drove the foe with great slaugh- 
ter. 

This is the tale of Surabo, the son of the widow; 
Surabo who some say was really a prince; but 
queen's son or widow's son he is the princely hero 
of the Pass of Suram. 

Hundreds of years have passed since the 
masons plastered the brave youth into the stones, 
and since that time castles have been built and 
castles have fallen, nations have come and gone, 
but the enchanted Wall of Suram has lost no 
single stone. It still stands a lasting monument 
to the heroism of the widow's Surabo. 

When Gogi finished the Tale of Surabo he 
closed the book and turned to the old man. His 
eyes were still closed, but he bowed his head a 
little to show that he had heard all, and aloud he 
said: 

"Life to you, son of Guria, and thanks." 

"To you life and health," answered Gogi, and 
began to strap his books together with a leather 
thong. 

The old man also arose to go. "We have no 
more Surabos in these days," he remarked, sadlj^ 



THE LEGEND OF SURABO 249 

shaking his head. "And now we need them more 
than ever before." 

*'But my father says that we have," objected 
Gogi. "That is a tale of itself." 

"Who are these Surabos, these brave young 
men, of whom your father has told you?" asked 
the old man. 

"The greatest of them all," said Gogi, "is not 
a young man, but he is as brave as Surabo for all 
that. He is Noah Jordani, the president, whom 
we KarthU call 'Our Noah.' " 

"Yes?" said the old man, with more interest 
than he had shown before. "Tell me how he is 
like Surabo." 

Said Gogi, "My father says that he too, like 
Surabo, has let himself be walled up in a stone 
wall to save our country. He is seated, night and 
day, in the castle which stands before these very 
gardens, and he is giving his life for the Karthli. 

"He is very old and weak and is a cripple," 
continued Gogi. "He has labored many years to 
gain us our freedom, and the Russians who were 
our masters sent him far into Siberia as an exile 
because he wished to save our people. Now that 
we are once more free he is forced to work night 
and day to hold our freedom for us. Always he 



250 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

sits in his little room in the castle yonder and plans 
for our good . . . and he is old and ill and should 
have rest. My father says that the stone wall of 
his office is smothering him just as surely as the 
wall smothered Surabo of Suram, and that he 
knows it, but does not fear to give his life for us." 

And then he added, "Our Noah is also of the 
people of Guria. His village is just over the hill 
from ours and I have seen his house which stands 
in Lantchout. There are none hke our Gurians." 

"Noah Jordani," said the old man, "should be 
very proud that he is able to give his life for the 
Karthli, for his is an old life and he has not long 
to live at best." 

And the old man added, "It is good to be proud 
that you are a Gurian, for surely the Gurians are 
good people. But so are the people of Imeritia 
and Sveria and Ratcha and Kakhetia — all the 
people of the Karthli. It is good to remember 
that first we are all KarthK, for if we do not all 
stand together — Kakhetia and Imeritia and 
Guria and Mengralia and the rest of the tribes of 
the Karthli — we shall surely lose the freedom 
which you say Noah Jordani is buying with his 
life. We must forget our tribal quarrels and 
stand together," he repeated, and with these 



THE LEGEND OF SURABO 251 

words he looked full into Gogi's eyes, and with 
a friendly nod and a smiling farewell he turned 
away and limped slowly back toward the castle 
that stood at the front of the gardens. 

When the old man looked full at Gogi the boy 
thought that he saw something familiar in the 
tired, sad face. His thought went back to the old 
man again and again, but he could not remem- 
ber where he had seen him until he glanced up 
at the schoolroom clock the following morning. 
Hanging below the great clock of the schoolroom 
was the picture of an old man with a thin gray 
beard and sad tired eyes. It was the same to whom 
he had read the Tale of Surabo. It was Noah 
Jordani, he who was known as Our Noah — the 
president of Karthli! 




I 



XXIII 

The Turkish Bath 



T WAS a Friday morning. Gogi and the natlia 
were on their way to the baths above the river 
Kura. ^^Ahanoshif^ said Gogi to the driver of a 
a phaeton, as the cabs are called, and taking a seat 
in the vehicle beside his godfather, they were 
whirled away with a clatter toward the Kura 
Bridge and the far shore of the river that housed 
the baths. Ahanoshi, as you may have guessed, 
means "to the baths." 

The natlia had a lovely bath in his own house, 
but he always visited the city baths once a week. 



THE TURKISH BATH 253 

He found the sulphur water from their hot 
springs good for his health, and he hked the mas- 
sage which the bath attendants gave so well. Fri- 
days the baths had not too many visitors and 
the natlia liked to go on then. Friday is the day 
of rest for all Moslems so all Moslems go to 
the bath on Thiu'sday. Sunday is the Christians' 
day of rest and they generally bathe on Saturday; 
Friday is thought to be unlucky by many who are 
superstitious. Saturday is the day of rest for the 
Jews but since they never take baths in the Cau- 
casus if they can avoid doing so, Friday, the day 
which should really be their bath day, is quite free 
of a crowd. 

^ When the cab came into the narrow winding 
streets into which the baths opened the driver 
turned about to ask which his patrons wished to 
visit. The natlia pointed with his stick to one at 
the foot of the alley. It was a tall stone building 
with a front made entirely of light blue tile with 
red borders. Its great dome that rose above the 
roof was surrounded by dozens of smaller domes, 
and every one was set with hundreds of tiny round 
glass windows no larger than a saucer, that spark- 
led and flashed in the sun's white light like dia- 
monds in a crown. 



254 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"Bbbbbbbb !" called the driver to his horses and 
pulled them to a flourishing halt before the doors 
of the Orbilianni Bath. The natlia threw the man 
a coin and followed Gogi into the bath. 

"You have chosen a new bath," said Gogi to 
his godfather. "Do you find something wrong 
with the other one?" 

"It is not that," replied the natlia, "This bath 
has sulphur springs much hotter than all the rest. 
I feel the need of very hot water to-day, for my 
rheumatism is troubling me a little." 

"Is it true that the Tiflis baths are good for 
sickness?" Gogi questioned the natlia. 

"They are very good indeed," asserted the nat- 
lia. "It is because of that that Gurg-Arslan, the 
Wolf -Lion, built the city of Tiflis. Many years 
ago, when Gurg-Arslan had become a very old 
man, his only pleasure was an occasional hunt in 
the thick forests that grew at that time all along 
the shores of the river Kura. One day when he 
was stiff and tired from the hunt he stopped near 
one of the warm springs and bathed. The next day 
he felt much better. The next time he hunted in 
this direction he did not forget, and when the 
hunt was finished he took another bath. Again 
he found that it caused him to feel much better. 



THE TURKISH BATH ^55 

Then it was that he decided to build a castle near 
these healthful springs of warm water so that 
he might bathe each day or when he jvished. 
About the castle houses sprang up, and soon there 
was a tiny town. This little town grew and grew 
until it became the great city in which we now live. 
^Tiflis-skhali/ it was called — warm waters, that 
is — and this name has been shortened to Tiflis." 
"I have seen the ruins of his great castle on 
the side of the Hill of St. David, above the 
school," said Gogi. "And we read of his war 
against India in our book of history in the class- 



room." 



A man with nothing on but a red towel about 
his waist met them and took them to a private 
room where they undressed. When they had taken 
off their clothes they, too, tied themselves about 
with red towels, and opening a low door in the 
rear of the dressing room they entered into the 
bath. In the bathroom were two stone benches 
and a deep square bath that was level with the 
floor and into which led a set of stone steps. Gogi 
and the natlia threw themselves at full length 
on the two stone benches and the bath attendants 
(another had now joined the first) cast buckets 
of hot sulphur water over their bodies. When 



^6 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

the two bathers were quite wet the men made 
great buckets of frothy soapsuds and soaped Gogi 
and his natlia until they looked like two white 
marble statues. Then they went into the next 
room and smoked while Gogi and the natlia 
"soaked." 

When their cigarettes were finished the bath- 
men returned, and slipping their hands into rough 
mittens woven from tree bark, they began to 
scour and scrub the bodies of the bathers. After 
this scouring Gogi and the natlia jumped into the 
stone bath and rinsed themselves clear of soap. 
Gogi remained in the warm, gassy water of the 
bath, but the natlia climbed out and lay down 
again on a bench. He was about to have his men 
give him a massage. 

The tiny bubbles of gas clung to Gogi's naked 
body for a short while and then burst. There were 
millions of them and they made a little tickly feel- 
ing as they exploded, hundreds at a time, all over 
his body. The bath attendant was massaging the 
natlia. With one hand he lifted huge folds of the 
natlia' s skin, and with the other hand he struck 
these folds heavy shcing blows. It was just like 
chopping wood. Then he put his two hands on the 
natlia' s shoulders and began to tread on his back 



THE TURKISH BATH 257 

with his naked feet as a baker mixes dough. He 
twisted his arms and hands, his legs and feet; he 
rubbed his neck this way and that, and then as a 
last touch he gave the natlia's head a sudden twist 
that made a crack like a rifle shot. This ended 
the massage, and the attendant then left as the 
natlia joined Gogi in the marble pool of hot 
spring water. 

Half an hour later Gogi and his godfather were 
out of the bath and stood again on the street. 
"Greetings of light steam," said Gogi. This is 
the salutation always given to one who comes 
from the bath. 

"And to you greetings of light steam and long 
life," answered the natlia, 

Gogi looked up at the sun to see the time. It 
was near noon, he decided. Even as he looked he 
heard the high thin wail of the muezzin from a 
big mosque beside the bath. He was calling the 
Moslems to noon prayers. "There is no God but 
Allah and Mohammed is his prophet," he cried 
in a weird singsong tenor. As he sang he held his 
hand to the sides of his mouth to carry the sounds 
afar to the most distant Moslems. 

Below in the yard of the worshipping place all 
was bustle and noise. The worshippers who lived 



258 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

near by were congregated about a fountain of 
flowing water and were washing their feet and 
hands and mouth, for every good Moslem washes 
before he prays. If there is no water he may use 
ashes. If neither water nor ashes are to be had, 
he may use dust or dry earth. Some of the most 
devout had their prayer rugs with them in httle 
rolls which they carried beneath their arms. 
Others were content to kneel on the straw mats 
which were free for all on the floor of the mosque. 
Many who lived some distance from the mosque 
prayed at their homes or in their shops. Moslems 
pray so often that if they were to come from some 
distance to pray at the church they would have 
only time enough to reach home before the muez- 
zin called them for the next prayer. 

Even some of those at the church chose to pray 
outside. Gogi saw them spreading their prayer 
mats and rugs or already bending and rising with 
their faces always to the east — to the east where 
lies the body of their prophet Mohammed. As 
each man finished his prayers he sat for a few 
minutes with hands folded quietly, or counted a 
little string of amber such as all peoples of the 
Caucasus carry. 

^'Akhal Thither!'' cried the natlia, raising a 



THE TURKISH BATH 259 

beckoning finger to a passing cab. The driver 
drew up to the curb and Gogi and the natlia were 
rattled away from the bath and back through the 
narrow, cobbled streets toward the New City, the 
better quarter and home. 

''Ya-vash! . . . Ya-vashr shouted the driver, 
meaning "Look out! . . . Look out!" for the 
streets were crowded with porters carrying huge 
boxes and bundles as large as small houses on 
their backs. One man was carrying a piano alone 
with only four helpers who, now and then, lifted 
it up so that he might hitch his shoulders into a 
more comfortable position. Tiny donkeys trotted 
along hidden beneath the tremendous loads on 
their skinny backs — baskets of pottery, stacks of 
hay, great earthen jars filled with milk or cool 
water from a famous spring beyond the town. 

Here and there a circle of porters sat about the 
tiny charcoal stove of a street vendor whose busi- 
ness it was to sell them little chunks of mutton 
fried over his stove on splinters of wood. Some of 
them munched sheets of soggy bread as thin as 
paper. Others rolled their chunks of meat in the 
bread and ate it in this manner. All seemed to 
be enjoying their simple meal. 

"Oh, what a tiny church!" exclaimed Gogi, 



260 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

pulling the natlias arm to draw his attention to- 
ward a small chapel that was almost lost in a 
tumbled pile of wretched shops and storehouses. 

"That is the Chapel of St. Nina," said the 
natlia. 

"St. Nina, who baptized the Karthli?" asked 
Gogi. 

"The same," agreed the natlia. *^*^The tiny- 
church which you see was built to protect the cross 
which she used when she made Christians of the 
Georgians. It was woven of grapevine." 

"The priest has told me of it," said Gogi. "It 
was stolen by the Russian soldiers when they first 
came into our country." 

"That is true," said the natlia, "People used 
to say that the Karthh would never be free again 
until the Cross of St. Nina was returned to the 
place where it had hung for so many years." 

"But we have freedom again," Gogi said. "Is 
the cross back?" 

"It is not the cross that brings freedom," said 
the natlia, "It is that which the cross stands for: 
courage and love for your fellow man." 

"That is what Tchuenni Noah said," Gogi re- 
membered. 

The natlia had the cab stop at the head of the 



THE TURKISH BATH 261 

big bridge over the Kura and he and Gogi took 
a cool drink of spring water from one of the men 
who sold it. The man carried the water in a tall 
brass ewer which was strapped to his back. A long 
hose led from the bottom of the ewer with a little 
spigot at the end which he turned to fill a cup with 
a drink. While he was serving his customers the 
man continued to shout from time to time, "Sauk- 
soOjSauk'SOo! , . . Cold water, cold water!" The 
ewer was decorated with tassels of scarlet silk, and 
a spike that stuck up from the battered lid was 
fitted with a little bell that kept up a constant 
jingling as the man walked or tilted his jug to 
pour a drink. 

Gogi noticed from the man's dress that he was 
a Tartar ; most street venders in Tiflis about the 
Old City are Tartars. Gogi saw other venders who 
were not Tartars, however. Neither were they 
dressed like Georgians or Armenians. They wore 
fuU-bloused blue trousers and tight blue tunics 
buttoned down the side. On their heads were blue 
caps, and their feet were shod in soft boots, the 
tops of which were telescoped in dozens of fine 
folds over their ankles. 

*'Who are those people?" inquired Gogi. "They 
have strange clothes. I have never seen such 



262 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

clothes in any other place. What is their tribe?" 

"They are not a tribe," replied the natlia, "They 
are called kintos. Their business is selling on the 
streets. Sometimes they steal, also. They come 
from all the nations of the Caucasus, but most 
of them are Georgians and Armenians." 

"They have queer clothes," said Gogi. 

"They have queer ways," said the natlia, "Do 
you see the heavy silver belts which they wear 
about their waists?" 

Gogi said that he did, and asked why they were 
so large and broad. 

"All a hinto's wealth is in his silver belt," ex- 
plained the natlia, "The profits in money from his 
trade in fish and fruit and greens he spends on 
wine, of which they are all too fond. Now and 
then when there is a little extra money the kinto 
buys a new silver bangle for his belt. When the 
weather grows so cool that it is no longer comfort- 
able to walk about the streets and sell things the 
kinto does something bad — steals or fights; for 
this the police send him to the jail for a few 
months." 

"Why should anyone wish to go to jail?" won- 
dered Gogi. 

"No one but kintos f' laughed the natlia, "They 



THE TURKISH BATH 263 

are so lazy that they had rather go to jail than 
work in winter. By the time spring comes, with 
the warm weather, their time in jail is finished 
and they come out into the sunshine again." 

"They come out and go to work again?" asked 
Gogi. 

'*Yes, they go to work again," said the natlia, 
'*But first they must get money with which to buy 
the goods which they sell. To do this they borrow 
from a money lender and leave their fine silver 
belts for a pledge. When they have made enough 
money from their peddling they buy back their 
belts. So it goes year after year ; always the same. 
They never marry and never save any money or 
buy a house. When one of them dies the others 
who know him best sell his silver belt and with 
the money which they get for it they buy a coffin 
for the dead kinto and bury him. With any money 
that is left over they buy wine and hire musicians 
and dance and drink at the grave side as long 
as it lasts." 

*'Yes," said Gogi, "their customs are even 
stranger than their clothes, which are surely 
strange enough." 




XXIV 

The Pig Hunt — At Home Again 



O 



NCE again Gogi stood on the little station 
of Natonebi. Everything was just as he had left 
it when he set out for the trip to Tiflis. It seemed 
to Gogi that he had been away for ages, but the 
two buffaloes were chewing their cud at the end 
of the station platform and the white scrap of 
linen which Vasso now waved to his son might 
have been that same one he pulled from his pocket 
when he last bade him farewell. Things move 
slowly in the mountains of Guria — things and 
people. 

The same people who had bade Gogi Godspeed 
were there to welcome him home, and many were 

264 



PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 265 

their exclamations of "Va-hatso" and ''Abba' as 
they looked him over with admiring eyes. To them 
he was already a city dweller, and city dwellers 
are much respected in the far parts of the Gurian 
hills. That night they did not forget Vasso's invi- 
tation to come and receive their share of the news 
from the city, but it was not Gogi that passed it 
on. It was the natlia, for the news was grave, in- 
deed, and called for serious talk. The Armenians 
had opened their gates to the Russians, and the 
Tartars to the north had also fallen before a new 
Russian invasion. In Tiflis it was feared that it 
would not be long before a Russian army marched 
against the Georgians. Noah Jordani, the presi- 
dent, was ill in his bed, and his ministers were 
quarrehng among themselves. Grave news this 
was to Gurian ears. 

Vasso, however, would not allow his guests to 
think too much about trouble that might come. 
"Our natlia has come to us from the city for the 
sake of sport," said he. "Let us be merry while 
we may. To-morrow we go to hunt the wild pig 
in the thickets of our Gurian mountain slopes." 

"It is a good sport," said one, "and they have 
become as thick as the Russian soldiers used to 
be." 



^Q6 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"It is the ripening grapes that have brought 
them down from the higher places," said another. 
"The hills are littered with rotting grapes." 

"The blessed St. Nina has been good to Guria 
this year," said Vasso. "Never have I seen grapes 
so plentiful and so rich. I have put two more wine 
tchanis in the earth of the maranni and still I have 
not enough to hold all the harvest. Glory to St. 
Nina!" 

"Glory to St. Nina," said all the guests, and 
made the sign of the cross on their breasts. 

Gogi fell asleep and still the men talked, for 
visitors from the city are scarce and they were 
hungry for news. Nina had set a good table, too, 
which they were loath to leave — cold roast pork 
with sauce of burnt grape juice, and rich cheese 
toasted on the coals. Vasso had opened the mar- 
anni and filled a tall earthen koM with wine, and 
from time to time the huge black drinking horn 
was passed among the guests. There is no end to 
Georgian hospitaUty, and there seemed to be no 
end to news from Tiflis, so that the sky was al- 
ready showing gray with the dawn before the 
guests arose to go. Nina had long since gone to 
bed, and when Vasso had seen the last visitor go 



PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 267 

he and the natlia lay down to snatch a little nap 
before daybreak. 

A great clatter in the yard awoke Gogi the 
following morning. It was the noisy arrival of 
Vanno, the wrestler, and his father, Grigo. They 
had come to join the hunt. Clanking against the 
frame of Vanno's saddle were half a dozen sharp 
bright spearheads. He had forged them with his 
own hands. All that was needed was to cut long 
staves for them from the forest and there would 
be a good stout boar spear for every member that 
wished one. 

^'Gomar-juba!" shouted Gogi to the new 
guests. "Victory be with you!" 

"Long life!" cried Vanno and his father, dis- 
mounting from their horses. 

Gogi had pulled on his baggy trousers and 
slipped his feet into his rawhide tchouvaki at the 
first sound of their arrival, and he was at their 
side almost before their feet touched the ground. 
In spite of the guests who had sat so late, Vasso 
had not overslept, for he too appeared from be- 
yond the log kitchen by the brook and hastened 
forward to join his son in welcoming Grigo and 
Vanno. Even the imtlia was up, but his city eyes, 



^68 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

unused to the early hours of the country, still 
looked a little sleepy. 

Steaming corn bread and a fat roasted chicken 
were soon laid before the men on the rough board 
of the kitchen table, and as they ate Vanno and 
Grigo listened eagerly to the news which the 
natlia had brought from Tiflis. 

"Then it is another war," said Grigo the smith, 
shaking his head sadly, for he had seen other wars. 
"Are we of the Karthli to be always fighting? 
Must we always fight or be slaves?" 

Vanno did not look so sad. He stooped over 
Gogi and whispered, "Now is come my turn. To 
this war I shall go!" Vanno was a member of the 
Young People's Regiment, a sort of National 
Guard, and they would be the first to be called in 
case of a war. Gogi was proud that his big friend 
would be able to go and fight for his country, but 
he was sorry that he was yet too young. Vasso 
would also go, for he was captain of the httle band 
of neighbors that lived thereabouts. When they 
had formed their little company of volunteers 
they had called Vasso as their leader, for Vasso 
was also an old soldier, though not so old as Grigo 
the smith. All would be gone but Gogi, and he felt 
very much out of it all. 



PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 269 

"But this is killing us no pigs!" exclaimed 
Grigo at last, for it would have been impoUte for 
Vasso to tell his guests that it was time they left 
the table to get ready. "Let us see to our guns 
and spears and be off to the hunt. To-day we hunt 
pigs, to-morrow the Russians may hunt us!" 

"Have you the food for our lunch?" asked 
Vasso, turning to Gogi. 

"Mother has wrapped it for us," his son an- 
swered, and pointed to a bundle tied in a square 
of cloth. Beside the bundle lay a small skin filled 
with wine. This was too heavy for Gogi, and Vasso 
would have slung it across his own stronger shoul- 
ders had not Vanno begged to carry it. 

"Gogi and I shall be the cooks and get the din- 
ner," said he. "In the woods we shall pick a good 
place for our camp and hang the wine skin and 
bundle of food on a limb. Then we shall be free 
to hunt with the rest." 

The little party of hunters followed a sheep 
path that wound through the forest and up the 
side of the mountains beyond the brook. Grigo 
had hurried ahead, and when the rest overtook 
him he was trimming half a dozen wooden shafts 
for the spears. These he had cut from young sap- 
lings with the stout knife which he carried at his 



270 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

belt. To each of the party he gave a new-cut haft 
and a spear head. Each man whittled down his 
haft to the right size and fitted the head onto the 
stave. 

"Now we are ready," said Grigo, who was the 
best pig hunter. "A little more to go and we shall 
see our first pig." 

"We are already near," said Gogi. "Look, here 
are pig hairs in the rough bark of this tree. They 
have been scratching themselves against it." 

"Yes," said Grigo. "And do you see how the 
bark on the grapevines is chewed and broken near 
the ground? That is where the pigs have wrestled 
with the vine to shake down the grapes." 

"And the ground is all rooted up as though it 
had been plowed," added Gogi. "I can see their 
tracks in the soft earth." 

Vasso and the natlia carried guns with bayonets 
on them; they loaded them and made ready to 
meet a wild pig. Grigo and his son did not carry 
rifles. They thought it better sport to kill the pigs 
with spears. Gogi was thought too young to have 
a gun. 

As they climbed higher the trees became smaller 
and more knotty. The brush became thicker, and 
nothing could be seen a few feet from the narrow 



PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 271 

path which the sheep had beaten. Later the path 
swung around the edge of a chff , and to one side 
they caught a ghmpse of the valley and Grigo's 
smithy far below. 

"Look!" cried Vanno excitedly. He pointed to 
a crag high above their heads and to the fore. 

"It is a mountain sheep !" they all cried at once. 

"What a giant!" exclaimed Vasso. "See what 
great horns he has!" 

"I did not know that any mountain sheep were 
left in Guria," said the natlia, "I thought that they 
had all been killed." 

"When I was a boy they were as thick as the 
pigs are now," said Grigo the smith. "But this 
fellow is the first that I have seen in years. They 
are fast dying out. They are very wild, and it is 
hard to get close enough to kill them. This old 
fellow must be very clever, though, to have lived 
to grow those beautiful horns." 

"Give me your gun," said he to the natlia, "I 
will show you a trick." 

"That sheep is too far away to reach with a 
bullet from my gun," said the natlia as he gave 
his rifle to the smith. 

The smith, however, did not try to hit the dis- 
tant sheep with a bullet. He took a cartridge and 



272 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

pulled the bullet out with his strong white teeth 
and put it in the gun. Then he pointed the rifle 
into the air and fired. There was no "bang" with 
the bullet out — just a spurt of white smoke. It 
was enough, though ; the big sheep disappeared so 
suddenly that it was hard to believe that he had 
really been standing there a moment before. He 
had seen the smoke with his keen wild eyes. 

"You were right," laughed the natlia, taking his 
gun from Grigo. "He is a clever old sheep. You 
would walk your legs off before you could ever 
catch up with him." 

When they had followed the path a httle far- 
ther the mountain seemed to split in two, leaving 
a tiny valley between the two peaks. Into the 
mouth of this valley Grigo led the hunters. 

"Here it is that we shall find our pigs," said he. 
"At the head of this valley is a spring that makes 
the ground soft and marshy. The pigs come here 
to wallow in the mud and eat young fern tops 
and mushrooms that grow in the moist shadow." 

"They will hear us coming and escape through 
the other end," warned the natlia. "The wind is 
blowing from us toward them and they will surely 
smell us with their sharp noses long before we get 
close to them." 



PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 273 

"Steep cliffs close the other end," said Grigo. 
"They cannot get out. There is only one way out 
— that is past us. If they smell us, as you say, and 
come out, they will only save us the trouble of 
going after them." 

"I see now why your father is called the best 
pig hunter," said Gogi to Vanno. "Let us hang 
up the food and wine on the bushes over there. 
This will be a good place for our lunch." 

"This is a good place," agreed Vanno. "There 
are plenty of twigs to make a fire and we can 
bring water from the spring after the hunt." 

When the food and wine had been put out of 
reach of four-legged thieves Grigo again took 
conmiand. "We who have spears," said he, "can- 
not use them very well in the bushes. We shall 
follow along the path. The natlia and neighbor 
Vasso can go through the bushes, one on the right 
and the other on the left of the path." 

"You have picked the best place for yourself," 
laughed the natlia, "The pigs will all run down 
the path if they can." But he knew that Grigo 
was right about the bushes being in the way of the 
spears, and struck out to the left of the path. 

Vasso took the right of the path and motioned 
to Gogi to keep behind him. Gogi grasped his 



274 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

spear firmly and followed his father. Somewhere 
in the depths of the thieketed valley he heard a 
faint rustle. On this followed an angry squeal. It 
was the pigs. Every man took a firm grip on his 
gun or spear and moved toward the head of the 
valley. The ground grew softer and softer under- 
foot, the underbrush gradually thinned, and at 
last Gogi caught a glimpse of the open space 
around the spring. 

Half a dozen pigs were wallowing in the slimy 
mud near the water, and as many more were nib- 
bling at the tender roots near the foot of the cliff. 
The hunters no sooner saw the pigs than the pigs 
heard them. One old tusker leaped onto his feet 
and stood glaring with wicked little red eyes in 
their direction. Thin mud dribbled down from his 
lean body and thick mane of long bristles as he 
stamped his forefeet and snuffled and grunted, 
half in fright and half in anger. The other pigs 
hearkened to his warning and faced about toward 
the intruders. 

Some twig that snapped beneath a careless foot 
or the rattle of a spear stave against a bush must 
have reached the ears of the pigs, for squealing 
and snorting in a frenzy of anger and terror they 
suddenly started for the sheep path. Like mad 



PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 275 

they galloped straight for the half-concealed 
hunters. Gogi's heart was in his mouth. The boars 
who ran in front were very terrible with their great 
shaggy heads and long white tusks that curled 
up over their long evil snouts, and this was Gogi's 
first sight of a live wild pig at close quarters. 

Gogi cannot be really blamed for being fright- 
ened, for even the older hunters felt a thrill. Gogi 
would have liked to grasp his father's arm, but 
he knew that he would need to be free in order 
to shoot. All this took but a moment, for Vasso 
raised his gun and fired at the foremost boar. At 
the same time there came the sound of the natUafs 
rifle. The pig at which Vasso shot fell in its tracks, 
and the others, with squeals louder than ever, 
passed right and left to disappear in the brush 
to the rear. 

Vasso and Gogi stepped into the open to see 
their pig, and as they stooped over the body 
Vanno and his father the smith also came out 
of the bushes dragging a smaller one. Vanno 
limped as he walked, and Gogi saw that his clothes 
were covered with mud. The natlia followed, his 
rifle over his arm. 

"It is Vasso's luck," said the smith, looking 
with admiration at the huge boar that had fallen 



276 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

to Vasso's share. To the natlia he said. "You see, 
I did not pick such a good place for Vanno and 
myself, after all. I got no pigs for my trouble, 
and Vanno here got only this small one, and it 
dragged him, spear and all, through the mud 
and thorns." 

"I have had my sport in finding them," said the 
natlia, "We have more meat, now, than we can 
carry. It is just as well that I missed my shot." 

Back at the entrance of the valley Gogi and 
Vanno started a fire, and soon they were roasting 
chunks of fresh pork over the flames on green 
sticks. Vasso took down the wine skin and they 
all lunched before they began the journey home. 

"It is a fine head that you have," said the natlia 
to Vasso. He meant, of course, the wild boar's 
head. 

"You may have it and welcome," said Vasso. 

"I shall stuff it and hang it in my room," said 
the natlia. "It will look very fine. See how long 
the bristles are!" 

Gogi tied the boar's head in the cloth which had 
held the lunch and hung it on a pole which he and 
Vanno carried on their shoulders. The others each 
took a leg of pork and as much meat as they could 
carry, and after a rest they started for home. 



PIG HUNT — HOME AGAIN 277 

The natlia was not to stuff the boar's head as 
he wished. When the hunters arrived at Vasso's 
house there was news awaiting them which made 
them forget all things such as stuffed boars' heads. 
The Russians were marching on Tiflis. It was 
war, after all. The natlia hastily prepared to re- 
turn to Tiflis, but Gogi remained. The schools 
would be closed. 




XXV 

War, and the Stranger Again 



O 



NCE again Gogi stood on the little station 
of Natonebi. But how changed the scene was now. 
Gone the lazy idlers who used to await each train ; 
gone the quiet. In place of the idlers stood knots 
of soldiers in little round felt hats, rawhide mocca- 
sins, and short brown overcoats of heavy home- 
made felt. In place of the quiet there was bustle 
and confusion. Officers with silver-hilted curved 
swords strode hither and thither, shouting orders, 
collecting their men as they came from the trains 
which pulled into the station one after another. 

The Georgian army was in retreat. The Rus- 
sians were too many for their little army, brave as 

278 



WAR, AND THE STRANGER 279 

it was. Tiflis had been lost to the enemy, who were 
even now robbing the houses and churches and 
shops. The president and his officers were some- 
where on the road. Noah Jordani had waited until 
the last minute, but when he saw that there was 
no hope of withstanding the invaders he agreed 
to leave the capital and retreat with the army 
to the other side of the mountains. From the 
Mountains of Ozerget to the village of Natonebi 
and the sea the Georgians were getting ready to 
make a last stand against their foes. 

Father Vasso was away in the hills with his little 
company of neighbors. Nina and sister Keto with 
baby Morro stayed bravely at home, and Gogi 
had come to Natonebi with the cart and the buffa- 
loes to meet the natlia, who was also fleeing from 
Tiflis with his books and papers and all the money 
that he had been able to save in the short time 
he had. 

Someone said, "The next train will be the last; 
they are going to blow up the big bridge over the 
river above so that the enemy cannot follow." 

Gogi was worried. He found that the natlias 
would be cut off and killed by the Russians. The 
tracks of the iron road were filled with cars. As 
far as the eye could see there were trains. They 



280 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

followed through as though they were one and 
not many; through and on to Batum, the sea, and 
ships which would have some of Georgia's trea- 
sure if the enemy broke down this last line at 
Natonebi. 

Gogi saw a company of soldiers with green 
uniforms and round cloth caps with no visors. 
"Who are these soldiers?" he asked of a Gurian 
officer who stood near him. 

"Those are Turks," said the ojBScer. "We have 
called on our old enemies to help us at the last 
moment. Our ministers have promised them the 
city of Batum if they will only help us drive back 
the Russians." 

Gogi looked again at the Turks. They were not 
bad-looking people, he decided. They had smiling 
open faces and appeared to be friendly. At any 
rate, they were better than the Russians. Gogi 
had heard tales of Russians and their soldiers. 

The station master no longer came out to ring 
the station bell when a train arrived or left — ^he 
no longer knew what came in or went out. He 
sat hour after hour at his telegraph key receiving 
and sending messages. Gogi saw him through the 
window of his little office as he bent over his table 
of instruments. Everyone seemed busy to Gogi, 



WAR, AND THE STRANGER 281 

He alone had nothing to do — ^just waiting. That, 
he thought, was even harder than doing some- 
thing. Suddenly there was stillness on the station 
platform. 

A tremendous explosion had silenced every 
mouth and frozen every man in his place. Another 
followed, and then a third. The sounds echoed and 
reechoed from the mountains like rolling of heavy 
thunder. 

"The bridge!" someone shouted. "They have 
blown the bridge!" 

The bridge was but a short distance away. 
Gogi's heart fell. If the natlia had not found a 
place on the one or two trains that crept along 
between the bridge and the station he would never 
reach Natonebi; Gogi shuddered at the thought. 

The train which stood before the station whis- 
tled and pulled out. Another drew up into its 
place. This was the next to the last one. At the 
very end was a coach with the blinds closed fast. 
On the side of the coach was a great white star 
with a figure — the figure of White Georgi. It 
was the emblem of the Republic of Georgia. Fin- 
gers pointed to it and Gogi heard excited whis- 
pers. 

"That is the car in which Tchuenni Noah sits," 



282 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

said a man. "He is very ill, they say, but refuses 
to leave the army. A brave man, Our Noah!" 

"A brave man, indeed," he was answered. "Life 
to him ! Life to our president ! Life to Our Noah !" 
Other voices took up the cry, and the air rang 
with cheers for the courage of their cripple-presi- 
dent. 

The president's car was put on a siding and 
the train left the station behind. Still the natlia 
had not arrived. The last train pulled in. Gogi 
rushed back and forth scanning the passengers. 
At last his watchful eye found the tall figure of 
the natlia. He looked tired, and there were lines 
about his eyes, but he was as calm as ever. His 
ready smile when he saw Gogi and the warm 
words with which he greeted him soon made Gogi 
forget all his early worries. 

"The cart is waiting, iiafZia-heart," said Gogi, 
after he had embraced his godfather. "Shall we 
go?" 

"I must send a telegram," said the natlia. "Let 
us see if the agent will take a message for me." 

Gogi followed the natlia into the station. At 
the window of the station master's office the natlia 
showed a pass to the guard and they were ad- 
mitted to the telegraph office where the tired 



WAR, AND THE STRANGER 283 

agent sat. But before the natlia was able to speak 
to the busy man there was a sharp command of 
"Attention!" and a party of officers and civihans 
crowded into the office. 

One of the officers stepped to the front and 
said to the agent, "Hold the wire for His Honor, 
the President!" 

The agent leaped to his feet and stood at at- 
tention. Gogi looked toward the newcomers. From 
their midst stepped the president. It was the 
same tired old man who had sat with Gogi in 
the garden behind the palace at Tiflis. The same 
old man, but perhaps a httle older and far more 
tired. He limped painfully to the agent's table 
and dropped wearily into the vacant chair. 

"Get me, please, the governor of Batum," he 
asked the agent. 

The agent took up the telephone and called 
the station of Batum. In another moment the 
president was talking with the governor. His 
voice was so low that Gogi could not hear what 
was said, but when he hung the receiver on the 
hook and turned about to the waiting officers 
the president's face was more hopeless and sadder 
than ever. 

"We have no hope," said he sorrowfully. 



^84 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

"Other nations have battleships in the sea at 
Batum, but they will not help us to fight. They 
will only help us to run away. The Russians are 
coming across the mountains and through the 
Pass of Artvin. If all haste is not made we shall 
be cut off from Batum. I have told the governor 
at Batum to surrender without further fighting. 
It would be foolish to fight when we have no hope 
of winning. Enough of our brave Karthli have 
been killed as it is." 

No one answered the president. There was 
nothing to say. He had merely spoken aloud 
what they had all felt in their hearts for the last 
two days. Georgia had again fallen to foreign 
invaders. Georgians were about to become slaves 
again. The agent had returned to his instruments, 
but they no longer clicked. He lifted the receiver 
and tried to get a connection on the telephone. 
It was useless. The telephone was dead. The agent 
turned to the group with the president. 

"My instruments are dead," said he. "I cannot 
get even the next station. Some spy has cut our 
lines." 

An officer turned to the president. "This means 
that we dare not go to Batum, Batuna President," 
said he. "We must cut across the hills on horses 



WAR, AND THE STRANGER 285 

and trust to finding a boat on the seashore which 
we can take and reach the ship by water. It will 
be harder travel, Batuna President ; it is best that 
you rest for a while before we start." 

There was a cot in the station agent's room, 
for he had slept at his instrument for the last few 
days, and on this the president was begged to he 
down for an hour's rest. When the president had 
been made as comfortable as possible by the same 
officer, who seemed to be a great person, the re- 
mainder filed out of the room so that he might 
have greater quiet. As Gogi passed through the 
door the officer saw him for the first time, and 
spoke to him. 

"You are from Natonebi?" he asked. "You 
know this village?" 

"Yes, Batuna officer," answered Gogi. 

''KJiargir said the officer. "That is well. Go 
then and fetch a koM of water so that the Battma 
President may wash and drink before he sleeps 
for a while." 

"I hear you," said Gogi, and made ready to 
obey the order. 

"I shall wait for you by the cart," cried the 
natlia. "I will load my baggage and eat some 
lunch." 



286 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

'"Khargir shouted Gogi over his shoulder as 
he ran away on his errand. 

When Gogi returned with the water in an 
earthen koki he was admitted to the httle room 
by the same officer, who stood at the closed door. 
Gogi approached the figure on the rough cot. 

"If you please, Batuna President," said he to 
the old man on the cot. "Water I have brought 
you that you may wash and drink before you 
sleep." 

Gogi poured the water over the outstretched 
hands of the president, and taking a glass from 
the table, filled it that he might drink. 

"Life to you and health," said Gogi, as the 
president drank the glass of water which he 
offered. 

"To you life and thanks," replied the presi- 
dent, and as he handed the glass back to Gogi 
he raised his eyes and smiled at him. In that one 
glance he recognized the boy. 

^'Ahhar he exclaimed with surprise. "It is my 
little Gurian neighbor who sat with me in the 
castle gardens!" 

"The same, Batuna President," replied Gogi, 
flushed with happiness and pride that the great 
man had remembered him. 



WAR, AND THE STRANGER 287 

"See!" said the president, who had not for- 
gotten their talk. "The wall was not made so 
strong by me after all. I have been a poor Surabo. 
And in a few hours, perhaps, I shall be as dead 
as Surabo has been these hundreds of years." 

Gogi could only shake his head; he did not 
know what to say. 

"One must be young to be a hero like Surabo. 
I am too old. You young people must become 
the Surabos who will bring strength to the tribes 
of the Karthli: you who are fighting." 

"I am not fighting," Gogi managed to mur- 
mur. "They say that I am too young to fight. 
That is what they told Surabo. He was younger 
even than I am." 

"Yes," said the president, "you are too young." 

"No man is too young to die for his country," 
replied Gogi with a smile. "That is what Surabo 
said, and I, too, say the same." 

At first Gogi thought that he had not been 
heard. The old man sat on the edge of his cot 
with closed eyes. Gogi stood and waited. When 
the old man opened his eyes again there was a 
smile in them. He motioned to Gogi to come 
closer. 

"You are right," said he, "as Surabo was right. 



288 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

You can serve your country equally as well. If 
you fail it is not your life that will be lost, but 
something that should be dearer to any Karthli 
than his life. I am going to give into your keeping 
the honor of all the nation of the Karthli." 

Here the president paused for a moment and 
pulled from beneath the cot a small leather bag. 
Opening this, he took out a square box of pohshed 
wood fitted with hinges of silver. This he also 
opened with a little key which was in the lock 
and offered it so that Gogi might see what it held. 

The box was lined with red velvet and on its 
bottom lay a polished, pear-shaped object. This 
the president lifted from the velvet and held it 
in the light of the window. To the small end of 
the pear was affixed a round disk. The surface 
of the disk had been carved with letters and an 
image. Gogi looked closer. The letters were the 
letters of the "soldier's writing" of the Karthli 
and the image was that of White Georgi, the 
patron saint of the Caucasus and all Georgia. 

"This," said the president solemnly, "is the 
great seal of our country which is placed upon 
all our papers. If it should fall into evil hands, 
^uch as the hands of these invaders, it would cause 
great harm. Evil people might write wrongful 



WAR, AND THE STRANGER 289 

things on paper, and when they sealed them with 
this image of White St. Georgi no one would 
be able to know that it had not been done by me 
or some other of our true Karthli." 

He paused again and returned the seal to the 
box from which he had taken it. He reached into 
the leather bag again and pulled out a red bundle. 
When he had unfolded this bundle Gogi saw that 
it was the flag of the Karthli — Si red flag with 
a square of black and white in the corner. The 
president wrapped the box in the flag and con- 
tinued : 

"We are cut off from the ships at Batum. The 
enemy are before and behind. My officers tell 
me that we must cut across the hills to the sea 
and seek a moat to save our lives. It will be a 
very hard trip. The enemy may overtake us, or 
I may fall by the road, for I am a very old man. 
For this reason I am about to give our great seal 
of the Karthli into your hands. You are young 
and you wish to serve your country. Take it and 
hide it away in the hills of our beautiful Guria 
so that it can never fall into evil hands. Some 
day I may come for it. If I do not come and the 
time should arise you will know what is to be done. 
Your heart will tell you what is best for the tribes 



^90 NOAH'S GRANDCHILDREN 

of Karthli and whom you may trust. Guard it 
well. It is the honor of the Karthli, and Guria, 
and you, and me. ... A good road to you and 
long life; farewell, son of Guria." 

Gogi had heard all that was said as in a dream. 
But the weight of the flag-wrapped box in his 
hands told him that it was no dream. He held 
the seal of White St. Georgi and the Karthli. 
He thrust the treasure beneath his blouse and 
opened the door. 

"A good road, Batuna President," said he. 
"Long life to you. I shall wait for you and the 
day in the hills of Guria. Farewell." 

"You have worried the Batuna with your prat- 
tle," said the officer as he closed the door behind 
Gogi. "Is he resting well?" 

"He was smiling," said Gogi. "I think that he 
will rest well now." 

At the cart the natlia stood. Gogi greeted him 
and they both climbed into its middle. 

"Ho, Rustam! Ho, Nazira!" shouted Gogi to 
the sleepy buffaloes. The heavy wooden cart 
creaked away from the station platform, now al- 
most deserted, and the httle iron-road village of 
Natonebi was soon left far behind. 

Before them rose the lofty peaks of the Gurian 



WAR, AND THE STRANGER 291 

hills, but as yet they were in the low places. Gogi 
would not feel quite safe until he saw the moun- 
tains about him. Gurians used to sing in the low 
places to drive away the goblins that they thought 
lived there. Gogi did not beheve in goblins, but 
when he felt the hard corners of the little wooden 
box beneath the folds of his rough homespun 
blouse he felt an urge to sing. He sang: 

"Hooooo-la, ho-la, 
Hooooo-la-ho. ..." 

The mountains ahead showed warm and green 
in the last rays of the setting sun and from their 
woody sides came an answering echo like a homely 
welcome to their midst: 

"Ho-la-hooooooo. . . ." 





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Connecticut 

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